Yes. It has. What a year.
For me, a time of transition, sadness, hope, dashed hopes, new hope, and perseverance. Just prior to the beginning of 2014, Stephens Press shut its doors permanently. I finished out 2013 and the first few months of 2014 as a freelance book shepherd—helping authors bring their book-babies to the reading public. An endeavor I still love, and haven’t completely left behind. In September, I lost my dearest friend, business partner, and sister after a long, long, hard fought battle with leukemia. (She taught me everything including what bravery really is.)
Not quite a year ago I was approached by Chris Matney of Trapdoor Technologies to help bring a new product to market. A world away from producing trade books, but not really. Codename: Morningstar is an app for tabletop role playing games (RPG). Games that at their heart rely on story, and storytelling.
So, from designing and helping to publish trade books of all descriptions and subject matter to adventure stories specifically designed to take players on a quest in a game setting. Not such a stretch as I’d imagined. Long story short: I spent a year designing and converting content from the best known (and literal granddaddy) of all RPG games, Dungeons & Dragons. Trapdoor Technologies had signed a contract with Wizards of the Coast creators of D&D and a wholly owned subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. to produce the “official companion app” to the tabletop game.
Our mobile application would revolutionize the table top gaming world. And, it is very very cool (or whatever the kids say today). An entire team of dedicated programmers, project managers, designers, and social media mavens, and not to leave out our angel-like investors, went to work to make this dream become a reality.
Our app was ready to bring to the gaming world. But then, at literally the last minute, Wizards pulled out. They and we found we had a fundamentally different approach and philosophy with regards to digital publishing. (To this day Wizards embraces print publishing and has not dipped their toes into the mobile e-book pool.) It seems (in this writer’s opinion) that they are struggling existentially with the same paradigm shift that trade publishers had battered at, and finally breached about five years ago.
Where did that leave us? With a fantastic product, but no blessing to use the D&D content that I had slaved over to convert it for use in the app. All, at our investor’s expense—Wizards and Hasbro donated not one gold piece to this effort. If I sound bitter, its because I am. A little bit. Mostly I am disappointed and mad that all that work went for naught. But not the work on the app itself—for which I claim no credit, at all.
But, all is not lost. We really, really want to see this product get made and released. So we’ve taken to the internets to ask for crowdfunding. Yes, it was nearly ready, but now we have to remove the Wizards content and ruleset (which is thousands of pages) and replace it with an open gaming ruleset and all new adventure content. Because of the app’s extreme integration with the rules and content—this will take time—and none of us work for free. We like living indoors and eating.
Thus, we need additional funding. And, I am asking you all to think about pledging—even if you aren’t gamers. If you are gamers then check out the list of rewards. When we fund you will receive (in the Spring) an awesome tool for your gaming experience and possibly some excellent swag, too. If you can’t pledge please share with your tribe of friends and family our Codename: Morningstar Kickstarter campaign. We don’t have much more time to pull this off.
Here’s a quick 90 second overview of our app in use around the gaming table. Please share!
Also, please support this Thunderclap campaign to help us reach a larger audience. If we get 100 supporters before Monday Dec. 22nd we will reach exponentially thousands more people. It costs you NOTHING but a few seconds and a few clicks.
As for me and Trapdoor Technologies, we’ll persevere. It’s what we do. Trapdoor has other irons in the fire. Our core technology will take us in other directions in the new world of digital, mobile publishing. What that looks like in terms of my job remains to be seen. I will not turn my back on indie/small publishers, or writers/authors in the mainstream either. I can’t, it’s in my blood, and I love it too much.
So, it goes. Another year brings hopes, dreams, joy and sadness, and … we keep on keeping on.
I post this with high hopes for the new year, for me and mine, and you and yours.