Updates on the May Game Collection (Part 1)

Loreshaper Games is having its best month ever.

If you’ve been following us for a while, you may have noticed that Carrion Birds and Kenoma haven’t released. Carrion Birds is 95% finished. It will come out in early June because of some scheduling changes I’ll discuss below. Kenoma’s still a while away.

Why have I pushed things back?

Because I’ve decided to make 31 games in May. It’s a heck of a challenge, but it is paying off.

Business Strategy

Part of the reason for this is that Carrion Birds and Kenoma are going to be larger titles. The prices will still be “low” compared to a major game. This will be $5 for Carrion Birds, and probably $5 for the Early Access of Kenoma, which will increase in price as stuff gets added to drive early sales.

You only get one first release, and I want to make good on it.

Many of the games I’m making are over on itch.io as part of game jams, which help drive a little traffic. It’s hard to tell exactly what drives which traffic unless you spend more time than I’m willing to do, but I think it’s at least 20% of traffic.

If you follow us on Twitter (@loreshapergames) you’ll notice that we’ve been a lot more active. This is helps build the account and prepares us for actual product announcements. I’m not too worried about social media since store engagement is the biggest closer for us. Social media doesn’t hurt, though.

Itch.io: It’s Really Better

Itch.io is my main distribution platform right now. This is for three reasons.

The Audience

DriveThruRPG has a different market audience, and I want to steer away from the smaller free-to-play titles over there. Distributing a lot of small titles on DriveThruRPG is a potential growth strategy, but it’s also a way to damage the more serious titles we publish. I don’t think will this will happen on itch.io (and if it does the two markets are separate).

With the May games, I’ve only put a couple up on DriveThruRPG. They’ve done well, just as they have on itch.io, but I’ve been selective about it in a way I don’t need to be on itch.io.

DriveThruRPG collates and prominently displays your average review scores between all titles, so any bomb hits you everywhere, not just on that title. As far as I can tell, itch.io doesn’t.

The Social Functionality

Itch.io has much better social functionality. You can sign up for publisher updates on DriveThruRPG, but I sometimes get twenty DriveThruRPG emails a day.

I’m probably in the upper ten percent (if not one percent) when it comes to being on publisher email lists. I never opt out and I have all my game reviewer history and the games I’ve bought with my own money adding to the number of lists I’m on.

The problem is that I don’t want to compete with 20 emails.

Itch.io just gives you a little notification in a social feed, which you actually check when you want to look at games. To someone who clicks the “mark all as read” button too often, this seems more likely to get actual engagement.

I also do game jams on itch.io all the time. That gives me a way to meet cool people.

Ease of Use

Itch.io is just easier to make fifteen-second “go in and publish/edit a listing” things. When you’re dealing with the system once or twice a month, that’s fine. But not only does DriveThruRPG break previews when you update a title (ugh) it also takes much longer. Likewise, you edit in different places, which is a pain. Itch.io is a one-page system (and has much better looking store pages).

A minor pain is that DriveThruRPG takes a 35% cut and itch.io takes a 10% cut, but that’s really more of a case for some limited exclusivity and promoting itch.io first on my social feeds.

The Games

I’ve already covered a couple games from May so far. The collection has a new name because few of the games are short and only a couple count as “micro” in any sense of the word. You can still check it out on itch.io, and it’ll be free at least through the end of the month.

Some titles will convert to being free demos, such as the business card games I’ve done. Others will require a purchase. The independent Pay What You Want stuff will remain free, and a couple of the bigger projects are already separate purchases. I’ll probably bundle all of them for DriveThruRPG.

Terminal Blackout

Terminal Blackout is perhaps the game I’m proudest of, because it’s by far the largest.

Clocking in at over 8000 words, it’s got opening fiction, snippets of a setting, and visual elements, and I think it’s perhaps the best-looking book I had put together up to the point I made it.

It’s a Breathless game. I love Breathless for gritty, fast-yet-authentic games, and I’ll suggest it to anyone who wants to get a start at designing and publishing content. Simple, easy to use, expansible, and flavorful.

Back From the Dark

Back From the Dark is a cosmic-cycle roleplaying experience.

It’s based on the metaphysics behind the novel I wrote for my MFA thesis, and it’s a storytelling-first game with some interesting phase-based characteristics that let you play the creators of a universe as it passes from the divine to the mundane.

It’s part of the basic collection.

I think the interior turned out fantastic for this game. I may be biased, but I doubt it.

The Empire Wants You

Another Breathless game, this time about the true cost of war.

It centers on a unique phase-based system where each player takes on two characters’ roles. One remains at home, the other goes off to war.

It leverages Breathless’ tense death spiral mechanics to a wistful effect, closer to All Quiet on the Western Front with a slow-burning pace.

Breaking Through

Another Breathless game, Breaking Through is a GM-optional heist game with a focus on developing characters in more ways than the original system does.

It’s high-octane. Get in, grab the loot, and get out. That’s the only way to survive. Waste time and you’ll get wasted.

I don’t mention this in the core advertising, but the system that builds the heists is a couple tweaks from being setting- and system-agnostic.

But Wait, There’s More

Obviously, it’s been more than a week since I last posted an update and I haven’t touched on all the games. Some are small enough that I don’t think they warrant an update.

I do all the text for a game on a given day, but the graphics and design start earlier for the larger projects, like Terminal Blackout. If you’re impatient, you can check out the May Games Collection link. It has all of them.

If not, I’m going to be doing another update soon with two significant announcements.

Until then, play on!

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