CoG/HG business model

Tumblr is a great way, especially if you’re willing to share one to two sentence snippets of a couple of spicier scenes as previews, and if you have them, put a couple of character portraits with some descriptions of the RO’s and small bits of what their personality is like. Tumblr is an entire different culture to Patreon though, and it’s much more about showing off RO’s and answering questions sent in about them from what I’ve seen.

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I like this advice. It sounds like a good approach, and I’ve seen it at work on other socials, especially when they have nice character art commissioned from illustratiors/artists and professional-looking graphics.

Tumblr is a mystery to me, as is Patreon. I mean, I get the concepts, I just haven’t put the time into making either part of my approach. I feel like promising Patreon subscribers regular content would add to my stress levels at this point, however I have A LOT of ideas for things I could share (maps, stories, rune guide…) I’d love to have a Patreon or Kickstarter to commission character art. There’s tons of potential, but I’m too aware that anything extra I take on means less time writing my actual game.

Lately, I’ve mostly been ignoring other socials and spending time here on the forum. It’s fun getting to know some of the writers and players in the CoG/HC/HG world, though I know there’s a whole world of fantasy fans on tumblr and elsewhere who might enjoy my games.

Time seems to be the biggest issue I see people mentioning when it comes to building a fan base and providing them with awesome content. Maybe when I have multiple games out I’ll hire a stellar PA to help me do it all.

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You can set up Patreon so that people are charged only if you post something, by the way. I’m not sure how that works exactly, but it’s an option.

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As someone who has supported (and supports) various Patreons, kickstarters, and Ko-fi–and who basically avoids tumblr because I freaking hate it–I can give you my perspective as a consumer.

Inane rambling under the cut...

All in all, I’ve found the kickstarters to be the best way to contribute toward a project while still getting something in return. I’ve only contributed to two of them (had I know about @CC_Hill’s kickstarter, I would’ve thrown money at it, too, but I don’t do tumblr and never saw it until it was closed) and appreciate how they were done. Offering a copy of the game for free is a must for me–if I’m throwing 100-200 bucks at a project at once, I would expect the game to be included in it. One of the projects mails stuff to you, but I don’t really like random people having my address, so I didn’t even try to get it. Both of them have other “extras”, like being able to read the alpha as it comes out, any DLC that gets done, digital art, etc. The kickstarters have pretty much rocked.

Patreon, for me, is hit or miss. I appreciate the “extras” but not at expense of the game not getting written. After all, I subscribe because of the game. Some authors don’t seem to struggle with balancing progress on the game with what’s promised. Others… seem to just enjoy raking in the money and spin their wheels on the game while offering half-assed “rewards” for patrons. I don’t appreciate those, though I have remained subscribed to one that does it simply because I want the damned game done.

For any author making a Patreon, I’d say to make damned sure you can balance writing the game and providing extras to your patrons before making the Patreon. If the extras are going to stress you out or be the “excuse” you find to not work on the game (I’ve been there, when a writing task is so daunting that you try to avoid it!), then don’t do it. It’s one thing to procrastinate on your own–it’s another to be taking people’s money while doing it.

I will also say that one of the things that will get me to join a Patreon faster is the ability to see alpha material. I know CoG doesn’t allow alphas to be published on Patreon without them being posted publicly two weeks later (and I resent that, as a consumer), but getting to see any substantial part of the game (not just a sentence a month) that’s being written as it’s being written is a huge selling point for me. Another thing I’ve discovered I love as a selling point is short games from NPC POVs (thanks for that Amy, lol). Those are fun, and I’d rather see NPC POVs like that than in the actual game.

There are two things I would love to see on Patreon subs that is not there right now for any that I’ve found.

The first one is the consolidation of all social media postings–in other words, put all of the tumblr asks, instagram posts, etc. on Patreon under a collection where subscribers can easily find them without being forced to go to those sites. I loathe tumblr and don’t have an account for instagram (and refuse to make one), so I don’t see a lot of the information that gets put over there. For the ones I really want to read, I download the entire tumblr and use a quirky plugin to see instagram posts via dumpor (and it doesn’t work half the time). It’s a pain in the ass. Providing it all on patreon would be a great service, which brings me to the second thing…

Once again, this is something Amy does with Infamous and Malin does with FH that I’ve found I love: monthly Q&As. You can put whatever you want to ask to them and they answer it all in one place. No having to create a tumblr account to get answers and be put in line to ask questions, you get priority, and that’s the kind of thing every one of these patreons should have.

Finally, there’s Ko-fi, which I like. It’s a good place to give a one-time donation to an author to support them, but it’s also a great place for authors to offer extras when they have time to do them via commissions. Instead of promising a bunch of monthly things, they can offer a commission of some type with a set number of slots, then let people purchase the slots. And sometimes, the products will be shared for free when the one who paid for it gives permission. I think that’s pretty cool.

That was longer than I intended, but I’ve seen a lot in patreon, kickstarter, and ko-fi, and know what kinds of things I appreciate and what kinds of things I couldn’t care less about. On Patreon, you can’t very well say you don’t appreciate certain outputs–all you can do is stay or go–which is unfortunate, actually.

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That was super insightful! I appreciate you taking the time to write out what you’ve seen, what you like, what works for you and what doesn’t. I feel like I just took a tutorial in content marketing. Thanks for that.

This is the thing I want to avoid, and you’ve mentioned some helpful ways to get around an all-or-nothing approach. I also appreciate the consolidated SM feed idea. Lots of food for thought.

Personally, I still feel like I need to buckle down and get this game finished before I start releasing bonus content, but I’ll be coming back to this for ideas.

I like seeing people making different platforms work to support their writing and creative endeavors, especially when the people who invest in those things are satisfied with what they get for their contribution. I’m all for artists getting paid to create, and it’s fabulous to hear from those who support that creativity.

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Is that actually a thing? I thought they just had to provide potential access to the game at some point before publishing and that could even be a private beta. (You could be right, I’m genuinely curious as I thought some of the popular games with patreons did get locked away for the reason people are paying for the privelage to read them.)

Although I have actually made donations with kofi on occasion to support people and never used pateron, I’m going to guess it’s not a popular means of support on these forums although I agree I like the idea of the platform more. Can authors actually offer commissions that way though? Or are you talking non-choicescript commissions. It would seem kinda unfair otherwise if it was fine to sell game related commissionied CSGs, but not ok to put a donation button on games released for free. (Sorry this is a little bit of a sore point for me that it’s fine to make money from games via pateron (including pre-release of games and extras that may or may not be in CS), but not via optional donations for free work (and donations are always likely to be very low amount anyway so close to a non-issue at the best of times) but I guess it’s because the end result for pateron is in theory something COG can sell if it does end up being completed which is why.)

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I’m glad it helped. I stuck it under the cut, just in case no one was interested in a consumer’s take on it. I’m full of other ideas for stuff on Patreon that would be interesting to see implemented (and might draw in more people), I just didn’t want to blather on forever!

I thought it was simply alpha content, but went and dug up the rule from the CoG “write for HG” page:

Some authors have Patreons to help support their writing. Any ChoiceScript-based content that you give to your patrons must be released to the general public within a month of giving your patrons access.

This is actually worse, since–if you go by the letter of the law–authors wouldn’t even be able to share sections of code. I think the intent might be for the actual games/alphas/etc., thought. They should probably clarify it.

Like you, I think it would be more reasonable if it referred to games that are locked behind a paywall, not short extras or games in alpha.

I meant non-choicescript commissions. The way I’ve seen it done is authors write “scenarios” in their gameworld that people commission. Or even a short twine-based game based on the world but not including content from the main game. I saw one where the author took donations to commission art that was game-related, too. I don’t mind that, either, especially since it’s paying it forward to artists. I like to see the same thing in Patreon, really. @ViIsBae does that, and the art is awesome.

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Yes, I’m not sure about extras. I think the rule about the betas needing to be released came about because there was a popular game that people could pay to read before it was released but it was not looking like getting a beta on the forums private or otherwise and others seemed to be looking like following that trend. Complaints were made. I think the authors (as per usual) can still choose to put a game behind a private beta advertised on the forums and restrict the number of people allowed to test it. I didn’t realise there was a time frame on it though. Suspect others don’t either.

*I’m actually not completely against paid periodic prereleases BTW. I follow a couple of webtoon comics and buy “fast passes” every now and again which is essentially that (buying an episode rather than waiting for it to come out for free) to support the people making them. If there’s something I really want to see continued and you can tell a lot of work has gone into making it, I’m happy to chip in and get something back for it. I’m less enamoured by many paterons for a number of reasons although if managed well I can see why people like to use them that way and it if supports the writer making a game rather than hinders it then it can only be a good thing.

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After I posted the link about Patreon, I found this bit, where @Eiwynn was discussing the use of Patreon with someone who seemed to take issue with it:

That actually makes more sense than not being able to post an alpha without making it public within a month. It even went further to state that the alpha can be on patreon with the understanding that it will eventually be posted publicly. The post is a treasure trove of info.

Yeah, I used to be vehemently against microtransactions (I hate EA Games for that and, to a lesser extent, UbiSoft), but with choicescript games, I find myself craving microtransactions so I can get my hands on parts of the game sooner. I’m not a patient person when it comes to entertainment, and I’m a spoiler whore from hell, so anything that solves that problem is something I would want. I think public betas would help with that, instead of limited betas, but most games don’t offer that now.

Right. That was why I specified I only like Patreon when the author is able to balance the extra work with getting the game finished. I mean, when you write you do need a break from the main piece you’re writing or you go bonkers–plus, it helps to flex that creative muscle a different way, much like any other muscle–but it’s supposed to be a break, not an extended vacation.

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Interesting article about the book publishing industry – which makes me feel better about my own ventures in traditional publishing (I may not have earned out my advance, but I apparently outsold more than 96% of published works?) and the size of the CoG/HG audience, where selling tens of thousands of copies isn’t abnormal.

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Yep, as someone coming from the traditional field, and with friends still working in it, the sales numbers here are amazing in comparison though the price per item is lower.

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An interesting comment to the article above:

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This might help explain why it might feel like there’s pressure to add romance.

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