Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quick update

Just so you all know we haven't dropped off the face of the Earth.

Life happens, as it tends to do, and sometimes brings with it chaotic schedules and a general feeling of burnout that is detrimental to a one-man operation like ELG. I'm not closing up shop--far from it, I still intend on releasing all the stuff I advertised. But I'm taking a short break to recharge the mental batteries. Been focused too much on producing gaming material for other people instead of doing it for my own enjoyment.

The down time should be brief; hopefully by September sometime I'll be back on track.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Monstrous Mayhem Deluxe Release

As promised, we have released the Deluxe edition of Monstrous Mayhem. This version contains only the material that did not make it into S&S Deluxe (which is still a pretty hefty page count!) In addition, we have added "Thug Rules" (also popularly known as "mook rules") to the mix in the Appendix.

Because the Thug Rules were not available in the original MM and I am loathe to make people buy the same product twice to get all the rules, we have made the Thug Rules available as a free download (which also includes collected errata for the first and second printings of S&S).

Now the bad news.

I was able to discount the softcover and e-book versions of this slightly (though not as much as I'd hoped), but not the hardcover edition, which is already priced so low we could never hope to have it in stores (seriously, we make *very* little off of the hardcover versions of these books). This is the down side of dealing with Lulu and their high "production costs."

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the "deluxe" MM, and get some use of the free thug rules.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Amazing post

For those who lament the editing and typographical errors in micro-press games, and those who complain about price points (though we've had none of the latter thus far), take a look at James Mishler's Adventures in Gaming: The Doom of RPGs: The Rambling, which breaks it down in fantastic detail.

Monday, July 13, 2009

S&S Basic Available

Despite Lulu's suckage, the Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Edition is now available. The basic edition of the popular retro fantasy game contains a streamlined (but complete) version of the rules and character progression to level 3, this 48-page book is a perfect introduction to the new class of old school, ideal for introducing new players to the game, or for just having an extra set of rules at the table!

A gift to our fans, Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Edition is FREE as an e-book, and can be purchased in a saddle-stitched, 8.5 x 11 booklet for $7.00.

Lulu sucks balls

Seriously. I hate Lulu. Their "manufacturing costs" are outrageous, their shipping rates are insulting, their customer service questionable. If anyone from Onebookshelf is reading this, PLEASE, I BEG YOU, get your PoD services up and running. Many of us in the indie game are waiting with baited breath for that day. I'm tired of feeling like I'm gypping customers when I have to charge them $7.00 to purchase a saddle-stitched book that's only 48 pages long (and that's without making any profit for myself).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Formatting Gaffe in S&S Deluxe

I discovered an unfortunate formatting gaffe in the columns on page 126 of S&S Deluxe today, which really should've been caught in proofing but just wasn't. Shit happens, but it pisses me off when it does.

Anyway, the gaffe has been fixed. If you've downloaded the e-book, please re-download (Remember: it's FREE through Friday!) and if you've purchased a hardcopy, I have made available a PDF of the offending page, fixed, which you can cut to size and stick in your book, with my deepest apologies.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Elf Lair Games Free RPG Days

Since we here at Elf Lair didn't have our product ready for Free RPG Day, we would like to, as a gift to our fans, make the Deluxe Spellcraft & Swordplay e-book available FOR FREE from Wednesday through Friday of this week.

No strings, no catches: Wednesday, July 8 through Friday, July 10, head over to the Lulu store, and download the Deluxe edition of S&S for free!

This promotion will be followed by (as soon as I finish cleaning it up and designing a cover) the Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Set, which will be 100% FREE in e-book format, and available in print for a very nominal cost. The Spellcraft & Swordplay Basic Set is a stripped-down (but complete) version of the rules, allowing for no Elite Paths and only the first three levels of play. It is 48 pages and 8.5 x 11 in size.

The Basic Set will be free in e-book format, permanently. We've had TONS of requests for a free starter kit version of the rules, and we've listened. I hope to have that available within a few weeks.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Growing Pains

They say you can't please everyone, and as Elf Lair takes steps towards growth into an actual publishing company, I'm finding more and more that's true.

Since the Deluxe Edition came out, I've had a few complaints that I'd really like to publicly address. The crux of these complaints are twofold:

1. Some people don't want to download errata and/or have it posted on our forums. They want me to give them a free PDF of the updated game.

2. Some people are outraged(!?) that we didn't smash Monstrous Mayhem in its entirety into the Deluxe Edition of Spellcraft & Swordplay.

Now, these complaints haven't exactly been legion: there have been four, to my count. But these four have been exceptionally public, and at least one of them is from someone who previously was a vocal supporter of ELG. I do like to try and maintain a good public face, so I would like to address the complaints here in hopes that I can be clear in Elf Lair's policies and the reasons behind them.

Folks, I understand where you're coming from, but in regards to the free/discounted update downloads, Lulu does not give me access to the identities of people who purchased the game, which means I have nothing other than your word that you've got it. Nor do they give me the ability to offer discount coupons like some of the other e-book dealers.

Let's be honest: every single one of us knows that Lulu is far from the best service out there--in many ways, it's crap. Their shipping sucks, their customer service is mediocre at best, their production costs are outrageous, their turnaround time S-L-O-W, and their options for storefront customization basic at best. I am not fond of Lulu. But they are, unfortunately, the ONLY game in town that does what they do, and offers the control that they offer over your project. So for the time being, we're stuck with them.

Given that I don't actually have access to the identities and contact info of customers who buy S&S through Lulu, while some of you out there I know for a fact bought it, others I don't, and if I start giving out free copies to a few people I have to give them to everyone, which quickly makes actually trying to sell the game moot. I did this once, due to my first loud detractor, and suddenly people came out of the woodwork saying, "What about me? Why don't I get one, too?"

Eventually, when DriveThruRPG/RPGNow get their PoD service up and running I'll be looking to move there, as that will give me the ability to offer discount coupons, updated downloads, etc., to customers. As long as I'm at Lulu, however, my hands are tied. Now, I could split my store and offer e-books through DriveThru and print through Lulu for the time being, but I expect people would then complain about having to go to two different places to get their e-books and print books in that case.

In addition, why is it that it's okay for companies like Eden, Palladium, etc., to put out errata documents, but not us? Why is it that Troll Lord Games and Catalyst Game Labs can incorporate errata and rules changes in every new printing, but nobody complains that they should get a free copy of the book, and yet when we do it--just because we're small and upstart--people want us to give them the new version, even though the pre-existing one is perfectly functional? Maybe I'm misreading but it feels like a double-standard that's in place because we're a bit closer to the fan base than some of the more traditional publishers are.

Finally, since I don't have a way to give out free download codes, the truth is that even with the identities of people who have purchased S&S in place I couldn't e-mail copies of S&S Deluxe because it's over 12 MB in size (even after I ran it through file compression in Acrobat) which is over the attachment size cap for AOL, Verizon, Comcast, Yahoo, Gmail, AND Hotmail (all of which have a hard limit of 10-11 MB).

I also can't help but feeling if I were a larger, more traditional publisher people wouldn't be raging about me releasing a new edition of the game that doesn't have everything they wanted in it. S&S is a light game. It's designed to be a light game. The rules we incorporated into Deluxe don't change that or add additional layers of complexity. The rules that are still in Monstrous Mayhem are rules that are OPTIONAL and NOT NECESSARY TO PLAY THE GAME.

Seriously; I meant it when I said that it's NOT a required update. There's nothing NEW in it. I wasn't kidding about that. I'm sorry that a few folks feel like I should've given them the full package of S&S and MM in one big book, but from my end that really feels like people demanding something for nothing, for no reason other than they want more for less. There seems to be a belief that if I smashed the two books entirely together, it just wouldn't cost as much. That may be true and it may not--I'd have to see what Lulu's production cost would be for a book that long. I could get into the licensing issues regarding some artwork I commissioned for MM that I'm not permitted to use in any product that is not an edition of Monstrous Mayhem, but suffice it to say, I'd lose some art if I did that. Some folks may not care about that, but it's a wasted investment if I axe that artwork.

Seriously, I don't want to drive customers away or be seen as though I don't appreciate your business because I do, really. You ladies and gents are what keep Elf Lair alive and progressing towards bigger and better things. Seriously, if I'd known it was going to cause this much of a storm I never would've bothered with the deluxe edition--I'd have just left it, warts and all, the way it was. We're really trying hard to take the next step with Elf Lair, and the more we have to focus on what now in retrospect seems a mistake in releasing S&S Deluxe, the longer it's going to take to finish upcoming projects like Vampire Queen, Eldritch Witchery, Apotheosis, Eiru, and Twelve Parsecs.

Finally, there have been a few grievances that we shouldn't expect people to look here on the blog for news and updates. Given that we've posted that the blog is the official place to keep up with ELG news and updates, I don't think it's that big an assumption to trust that our customers check here for what's going on with us.

NOW, with all that being said, I will look into doing whatever I can to fix these issues, and will post here when I've come to a decision about how to put peoples' fears and doubts to rest.

Thanks for your continuing business--I hope that this blog didn't seem too ranty, self-pitying, or unappreciative. I think we're going through a few growing pains at the moment, and I guess that's a good thing: even the complaints mean people care and are taking notice of Elf Lair as a company, and we have seen that and appreciate it. Hopefully you'll continue to be pleased with our product overall.

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