Measuring Success: The First Six Months

BrokenRuler_logo_websiteheader_Oct2015_noshadow

It has been exactly six months since Broken Ruler Games was relaunched and the time has come to look back at those early days to see where things have progressed to date. Yes, exactly six months to the day.

Pay no attention to the date of this post!

Hello again, loyal readers and casual Googlers. This is BRG’s big cheese, Todd Crapper, here once more to review the numbers that have been flying across my screen these past few months. As this latest update in the Measuring Success is arriving a bit behind schedule and there’s still plenty of work ahead on the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter, let’s jump right into the fray, shall we?

Cutting Up The Numbers

Below are the total sales for both OneBookShelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and affiliates), the Open Gaming Store, conventions, and direct sales between September 20, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

Product Total Sold Gross Sales Earnings  
Killshot: The Director’s Cut 20 $86.12 $50.39  
PDF 18     **listed as Silver Best Seller on DriveThruRPG
Hardcover B&W 2     1 print demo ordered from Lightning Source
Hardcover B&W + PDF 0      
         
Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal 5 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF 5      
Softcover B&W 0      
         
Killshot: Direction 0 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF 0      
Softcover B&W 0      
         
Killshot Files #0 22 $2.00 $1.17  
PDF (Free) 22      
         
Killshot Files #1 5 $6.00 $3.64  
PDF 5      
         
Killshot Files #2 6 $17.47 $10.22  
PDF 6      
         
ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition 0 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF (Free) 0      
         
Ironbound 101 $5.83 $3.49  
PWYW 48      
Softcover POD 0     limited to 5 copies only for PbP playtesters!
Blessed and the Damned 53      
         
ScreenPlay 32 $189.20 $129.75  
PDF 23      
Softcover POD 2      
Softcover POD + PDF 4      
CreateSpace / Retail 5     for backers/playtesters/patrons only!
         
Dial M for Monster 18 $68.50 $40.08  
PDF 16      
Softcover POD 2     1x POD proof ordered Sept. 2016
         
High Plains Samurai 911 $0.00 $0.00  
Rehearsal Edition 911      
       
TOTAL 1146 $365.12 $238.74  
         
Killshot Directors Kit (Bundle) 5    

With only one new paid release in this period (Dial M For Monster), these are decent numbers. Considering how ScreenPlay quickly lost steam after a strong release and Dial M (to be blunt) failed to click with classic monster movie fans in October, these are good to see and a positive sign moving forward. Killshot continues to hang on and Ironbound refuses to go down (much like the magick hunters themselves).

This is also the first time I’ve been able to include sales from multiple sources and not just OneBookShelf sites. Broken Ruler Games is now a proud member of the Open Gaming Store, Composed Dream Games Marketplace, the IGDN (providing access to some American conventions with plans to move into retail distribution as well), and we’re also available in at 401 Games in Toronto. A brick-and-mortar store selling physical copies of ScreenPlay! Always brings a tear to my eye. Plus there was a copy sold at BreakoutCon. Oops, there’s another tear.

What really stands out over these past six months is that nice big number next to High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition. 911 downloads. In one month. Wow! And that number is soon approaching 1,000. Compared to the 645 downloads of ScreenPlay‘s Rehearsal Edition during the initial playtest campaign and during ENnies voting, roughly four months of availability, and that’s a big leap. Clearly the concept connects with people enough to add it to their catalogue; the question becomes whether or not it will be enough to make a healthy portion of them want to help expand this project into something bigger and wilder. Time will soon tell.

Tightening The Focus

dialm_finalcoverThese numbers have brought something to light: open ended products do not sell as well as detailed concepts based on a particular genre. By this, I mean products with a clear direction and theme in mind, such as a game about robot hunters on Mars versus a game about telling a story around a campfire. Killshot is still selling (and selling better than ScreenPlay) after four years and HPS‘ initial downloads prove that case. While Dial M provided a clearer idea of the system than the ScreenPlay core rulebook, it was not unique enough to stand out in the crowd. At this point, the only two products consistently getting clicked are the modern assassination RPG, Killshot, and there appears to be strong interest in Samurai‘s mad mash-up. Perhaps more than the positive signs, it’s the negatives telling me BRG needs to consider a greater focus on more unique concepts than open-ended, “do-it-all” systems.

ScreenPlay and Dial M For Monster are currently financial losses and it looks as if it will be a while before they break even. Those are strong negatives as far as aiming at similar projects in the future. It’s not to say such products will never be on the menu again, just that there will be some smaller budgets attached to them. Much smaller. It will mean smaller page counts but it also means future ScreenPlay treatments are still possible with the rules left up to the core rulebook. Maybe a collection of treatments. If anything, it’s a worthy experiment that will help shape BRG’s future (even if the result was less than hoped).

Getting Ready To Unleash The Samurai

hpslogo_kickstartermay2017

As mentioned above, we’re closing in on the Kickstarter launch of High Plains Samurai and all wheels are spinning in that direction. Seeing such impressive numbers for the free playtest have been incredibly encouraging… but the low number of survey results have skewed that sentiment. To date, there has only been one survey result completed for HPS but there are a couple factors to consider. First, this first quarter of 2017 has been Kickstarter season (one we were originally due to be part of were it not for the scheduling change and I’m very glad HPS wasn’t trying to compete with so many other amazing games during March). There’s been a lot of new stuff coming and going. ScreenPlay‘s playtest was released in October versus HPS‘ in March. Obviously, this time difference is huge and has been noted for future playtests. The downloads suggest HPS definitely appeals to a wide audience; without the feedback, it’s hard to tell if it actually resonates with people.

Another crucial factor is that getting feedback on anything – let alone a playtest – is difficult in the best of times. What I had hoped was a working formula has now been revealed to have been a lucky fluke with ScreenPlay… or maybe it’s more of the audience each game attracted. ScreenPlay definitely struck a chord with the story game crowd, Samurai has appealed to a more traditional RPG audience (or perhaps a hybrid crowd, such as Powered By The Apocalypse fans). Even people who playtest something face-to-face with the creator can be loathe and unable to provide detailed feedback, but I’m happy to report there are some playtests in progress at the time of this post and there should be more to work from going into the Kickstarter campaign. The initial response to this game is still very strong and I should have BIG NEWS for the launch party (to me, at least, because I get to fan gush when the time is right). Stay tuned for that.

All that aside, revisions have been made to the Kickstarter’s goals and stretch goals in light of this shift in playtest results. For starters, I’ve adjusted the goal to a lower $3,000 (Canadian) to fund a “basic” version of the game and by that I mean a 96-page edition containing the complete rules and basic setting material with an appendix for the Black Scorpion storyline and a host of supporting characters from around the One Land. This will at least give me the satisfaction of knowing I can publish HPS in a way that I would still be proud to slap on the BRG label and provide something magical for people to play. At $6,000 (still Canadian), we will produce High Plains Samurai: Black Scorpion’s Revenge, the true version of the game I’ve always intended. At nearly 160 pages, this will contain everything from the “basic” version plus incredibly detailed guidelines for directing/playing HPS and a chapter for each of the six major locations in the One Land. Within each of those chapters, a series of scenarios will provide story beats to help your group play out your version of Black Scorpion’s Revenge, the main storyline that threatens to wipe the One Land from existence. At $10,000… you know what, let’s leave that one for now. Yep, I’m teasing you.

My Money Where My Mouth Is (or Do You Want To See The HPS Kickstarter Budget?)

Due to time constraints and wanting to get this post out the door before the end of April (sheesh!), I’m going to skip the fourth component of this post… for now. Seeing as I’ve been open with my sales figures, it seemed only fair to be as open with my Rehearsal Edition/Kickstarter budget for High Plains Samurai. How much I’ve spent to date to create the version that will exist as of May 30th as far as editing, artwork, marketing, and more. Time permitting, that will happen before the launch. Otherwise, I will make a point to include it during the campaign itself.

Until then, if you have any questions, comments, or random swear words to throw my way, I’m always game to hear from you. Thank you for your support so far as BRG continues moving forward and I hope there’ll be some crazy numbers to show you next time. Like numbers with four digits. Whaaaaa….?!!

Save 25% on ScreenPlay and Killshot This Week

Normally, there’d be a witty remarks to start off this post that may or may not play up on Santa’s workshop being taken over by rogue elves when the big man and his dear wife go away on holidays… but this sale is so big there’s no time to waste joking around.

The annual tradition that is Christmas In July is going on now at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow where pretty much everything they have is 25%, including the ENnie nominated ScreenPlay and Killshot roleplaying games. If you’ve had any of our products sitting in your wish list or if you’ve downloaded ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition and have yet to take it to the next level, you only have 4 days left.

ChristmasInJulyNewAd-DTRPG

 

What are you still doing here? Didn’t you read there’s only four days left to save 25%? Start clicking, start saving!

Black Friday 50% Sale For Assassins This Holiday

KillshotDirCut_mock_v1‘Tis that time of year when thoughts turn to spending time with family and friends gathered around the table sharing drinks and laughs as flakes of snow trickle from the sky to herald the beginning of winter. What other time would be perfect to think about saving some of your hard earned cash on the world deadliest roleplaying game? And if that doesn’t sound appropriate, then you clearly haven’t spent time with family and friends gathered around the table sharing drinks and laughs as flakes of snow trickle from the sky to herald the beginning of winter.

Along with some other fine products available at DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and their various affiliates, all you need to know is Killshot is 50% off this weekend from Thanksgiving Thursday to Cyber Monday. Because assassins love a good deal and so do you.

Killshot Signs Up With the Bundle of Holding Gang

KillShot-Logo_v1Does the idea of playing a hard boiled detective in 1930 Los Angeles intrigue you? Maybe you’re looking to start a new campaign in tribute to black-and-white noir films? Well, you’re in luck because if you like Killshot, there’s a new way to drop some crime onto your table.

Broken Ruler Games is proud to partner with the popular and noble Bundle of Holding site to provide the Deadly Games bundle. For as little as $5.95 US, you can get four crime/film noir inspired indie games and if you cough up as little as $10, you can get a copy of Killshot: The Director’s Cut to go with it. A portion of the sales will go towards Reading Is Fundamental and it’s a great way to feel like you’ve hijacked a truck full of premium goods without actually hijacking a truck.

But like any great heist, you’re running out of time. This bundle expires on June 23rd, so grab a welding torch and crack open that bundle to help out a great cause.

Killshot Goes Hollywood: Killer Elite vs. John Wick

Let’s face it, assassins are nothing new to fiction or roleplaying games. They’ve long been a part of our cultural psyche as mythical figures of darkness lurking in the darkness, sometimes as rogue heroes and other times as blood spilling villains. They’re effective in quite a few genres, including thrillers, spy novels, mysteries, and action. While many RPGs are inspired by novels and other works of text-based fiction, Killshot grew from a love of two genres: action films and true crime.

For this post, we’re going to deal with the former because there are two movies that may just be the perfect representations of where you can go with your Killshot career. Each one offers a different glimpse of the assassin’s world, be it a gritty glimpse of the world around us or a stylish presentation of a shadowy underworld. Killer Elite One Sheet

The first is Killer Elite, starring Jason Statham and Robert DeNiro. This is one I prefer to call “Killshot: The Movie” because there are so many aspects of the game mimicked in this film (save for Evidence Points). Loosely based on a true story (so the studio says), Statham stars as Danny, a retired professional assassin from the 1980s trying to lead a normal life after being in the business for far too long. It’s a standard trope of many underworld films, sure, but that’s not what we’re here to discuss. He’s dragged back into the fold after discovering his old friend and colleague, Hunter (played by DeNiro) has been captured by an Arab Shiek. In exchange for the release of his friend, the Shiek wants Danny to kill three British Special Forces officers involved in the death of his son. As I said, nothing truly unique in the plot here, but what makes this film stand out is the group dynamic of assassination. Danny works with a team to complete each job to eliminate every mark without arousing any suspicion. Both of these are major aspects of Killshot and along with so many other touches, it’s no wonder I personally turn to Killer Elite to explain what the game is truly about. John_Wick_TeaserPoster

Just like assassination, however, there’s more than one way to skin a mark. That’s where John Wick comes in. The stand alone retired hitman – another played out concept, indeed – this cinematic stunt-laden film puts a different spin on professional assassination through its setting. Keanu Reeves is the titular character out to avenge the death of his puppy (which was a gift from the dying wife, just in case anyone out there doesn’t believe you should go on a killing spree when someone kills your absolutely adorable puppy).

Unlike Killshot, this film is all about the lone assassin kicking ass ten times over, but it’s the setting that truly stands out for any Director looking to go this route with their players career. Two aspects in particular are incredibly perfect for any Killshot career: the Continental and the use of gold coins. The Continental appears to be a legit hotel operating out in the open, but it is run exclusively for underworld figures – particularly assassins – operating in the city. One rule remains in the Hotel – no business is to be conducted inside. That means no grudges, no hits, no gunplay. Abide by this simple rule and you will be treated like an honoured guest; break it and your membership will be revoked (in the form of several bullets to the head). The second is the use of specialized gold coin as a form of underworld currency. Untraceable and applicable only in criminal circles, they’re a handy way of working out transactions without bogging your game down with details and payment arrangements. Plus, if your players come from traditional fantasy RPGs, it’s a great nod to their origins. (And also a personal favourite approach as I’m never a fan of money in any game.)

Both of these films give you just a sampling of how unique your own Killshot career can be, no matter how you choose to approach it. There are many other excellent (and yes, crappy) assassin flicks out there – what do you recommend?