How RPGs are Illustrated

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the seriesHow RPGs are Made

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series How RPGs are Made

Introduction

I recently hired a new disabled illustrator to join the Survival of the Able team. Like I did when hiring an editor, I gave them a sample design to illustrate for me to see if they were a good fit. Here’s the final result:

Agnus swings a torch at a zombie.

This illustration depicts Agnus, one of the iconic characters from the book, fighting a zombie. It didn’t start out looking like this, though. In fact, we went through a few rounds of sketches and edits before seeing the final product. Before I could do that though, I had to find an artist for the job.

Looking for … Continue reading

How RPGs are Edited

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesHow RPGs are Made

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series How RPGs are Made

I have been hard at work preparing for the Survival of the Able Kickstarter, with a tentative mid-October 2019 launch. That means preparing and planning the campaign, but it also means hiring artists, editors, and layout professionals to help finish the book.

Since Survival of the Able is all about representing people with disabilities, it’s important to me to hire a diverse team. I put out the call to Twitter to find a disabled editor, and within hours was talking to someone who wanted to help.

Side note: Before working with a new team member, I like to order some sample work to see if they’re a good fit. It’s important not to ask for work on spec–that is, it’s important not to ask for someone to give you a sample … Continue reading

Game Design Occupations Explained: Art Director

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the seriesGame Design Occupations Explained

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Game Design Occupations Explained

Introduction

It has been a while since we’ve updated the Game Design Occupations Explained series, but we’re back with another informative article. This week we have a guest post from John Arcadian. John is a freelance Art Director who has worked on multiple books through various companies including Cubicle 7, Engine Publishing, Silvervine Games, and Encoded Designs. John is happy to share some of the ins and outs of art direction and shed a little light on why everyone wants to do it themselves once they get a taste for it.

 

Your manuscript is in your hands, your words are polished and edited, but if you want to get premium shelf space or sales on Drive Thru RPG, you know your book needs to look good. That’s what makes people pick it … Continue reading

Style Guide for Writing About People with Disabilities

I recently came upon this helpful style guide for writing about people with disabilities. It’s geared toward members of the press, but useful for anyone who might be writing about disabilities in general.

Link: NCDJ Style Guide

The style guide has a helpful A to Z list of common terms, their backgrounds, and recommendations for how to use them when referring to people with disabilities. There are a couple of common themes among their recommendations:

  • Use people-first language. This means you should use phrases such as “a person with a visual impairment” rather than “a visually impaired person.”
  • Only refer to the disability if it’s relevant to the story. One example they use is that of residents of a neighborhood complaining about noisy airplanes flying overhead. One of the residents uses a wheelchair, but that fact isn’t relevant to the story because it has nothing to do … Continue reading

Accessible Games Year One Sales Figures

Introduction

I sold my first book on May 5th, 2013. On May 23rd of the same year, Psi-punk went on sale and it truly kicked off my start as a small press RPG publisher.

I had intended to post regular sales updates to help others get an idea of what a small press publisher’s sales figures may look like, but alas that goal had fallen by the wayside. Now that it’s been over one year since my first major release went public, I decided to go back and take a look at how the year has gone.

I started by taking a look at my sales on DriveThruRPG. To date, I’ve only sold one PDF through any other channel (a copy of Diviner’s Dissertation on d20pfsrd.com) so I really only have one source to pull from. These sales don’t include the initial Kickstarter backers, of which there were 111 … Continue reading

Game Design Occupations Explained: Editors (Pt. 2)

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the seriesGame Design Occupations Explained

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Game Design Occupations Explained

This week we have three guest authors. Each is an editor with a lot of experience in the RPG industry, and they’re here to tell us a bit about what editors do for your manuscript. If you thought editing was just the process of finding typos (don’t worry, you wouldn’t be alone), you might want to pay attention.

Recap

Here’s a brief refresher about the types of editors you’ll commonly encounter in the RPG industry.

Types of Editors

Developmental editor: ER doc who can patch up the worst writing wounds and keep your manuscript alive; can also be a general practitioner who just checks to be sure that your ms doesn’t have lurking problems without symptoms

Copy editor: Specialist who can improve the health of your ms in specific, … Continue reading

Game Design Occupations Explained: Editors (Pt. 1)

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the seriesGame Design Occupations Explained

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Game Design Occupations Explained

This week we have three guest authors. Each is an editor with a lot of experience in the RPG industry, and they’re here to tell us a bit about what editors do for your manuscript. If you thought editing was just the process of finding typos (don’t worry, you wouldn’t be alone), you might want to pay attention.

Introduction

So you’re designing a game, or maybe you’ve already designed a game, or you will be designing one. At some point that means you’ll be writing it all down, whether it’s a world guide, an adventure, a bestiary, or something else. You might be the most inventive designer and accomplished writer since [insert your favorite RPG superstar here], but rule #1 is that everyone needs an editor to look over their work. … Continue reading

Game Design Occupations Explained: Layout and Print Design

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the seriesGame Design Occupations Explained

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Game Design Occupations Explained

This week we have a guest post from Ruben Smith-Zempel. Ruben is a print designer with a lot of experience doing layout, cartography, and graphic design. See his “About the Author” section if you’d like to contact him.

Introduction

So your game is all written and you’ve collected all of your illustrations. Now you need to turn your raw elements into a finished product. It’s time for you to hire a print designer (or layout artist). This article will give you a brief overview of what the job entails and what questions you should ask when hiring a print designer.

 What to Expect

Print designers are responsible for combining your game text, illustrations, and other materials into the final product that is then sent to the printer. This is accomplished with … Continue reading

Game Design Occupations Explained: Writers

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the seriesGame Design Occupations Explained

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Game Design Occupations Explained

Introduction

I’ve spent the last few years learning everything I can about the RPG design process. As a small press publisher, I know I need to wear a lot of design hats myself, but there are certain skills I just don’t possess. I can write, proofread, and do my own page layout, but every author needs a good editor and most authors don’t also do art (I am one of those “most authors”). The tricky thing is figuring out who does what, how much it costs to get that done, and—perhaps most importantly—what your fellow designers need from you so they can do their job.

One of the most important skills any designer needs to learn early on is how to communicate with freelancers. Whether you’re hiring authors to help write … Continue reading

Accessible PDFs with InDesign Alternatives

This entry is part 15 of 17 in the seriesTutorials

This entry is part 15 of 17 in the series Tutorials

Introduction

I have offered a lot of tutorials about how to use Adobe InDesign CS6 to make accessible PDFs. It’s a great program — industry-standard for a reason — but it’s also really epensive. Even with the new, more affordable Creative Cloud option, InDesign can seem out of reach for a small press publisher who’s on a budget.

In “How to Choose Layout Software,” I mentioned a few InDesign alternatives. Scribus is a free and open source layout program that is powerful, if not the most intuitive. Serif PagePlus is a low-cost alternative that isn’t quite as full-featured as InDesign, but it will get the job done for a fraction of the cost. More recently, I discovered LucidPress, a free web-based layout program, as well.

If you’re using one of these alternatives, you … Continue reading