Happy Birthday, Harry: We Have A Target

It’s Harry’s Birthday

Harry Dresden was born on a Halloween, so we thought it would be fitting to birth a special announcement of our own: having wrapped up our “text completion” goal at the end of this month (today!), we have settled on a target date for publication–Origins, 2010 (June 23-27, 2010).

Now, we’re calling this a target date rather than a definite publication date for a reason: you can miss a target, and given our historical curse with missing stated dates, there’s a chance that’ll happen here (more on that in a moment).  That said, if we can pull it off in any conceivable way, we will at least run an instant content preorder at Origins.

What’s an Instant Content Preorder?

The instant content preorder concept, which we piloted at Endgame out in Oakland, CA (one of the best game stores in the nation), is a pretty simple one: you plunk down the money in advance for your copy of the game, and you get the PDF of the game right away, usually on CD.  There’s no extra charge for the PDF–this is simply a way to make sure that the customer gets to walk away with something tangible and immediately useful when placing a preorder.  This worked so well for Evil Hat via Endgame that we suggested it as a battle-plan for Hero Games when it turned out they wouldn’t have Hero System 6th Edition in physical form in time for GenCon this past year.  So they ran with it– and it was a smashing success, with them selling 220 (or so) copies at the show despite having only 200 CDs on hand.  At Evil Hat we really like the combination of print and PDF products, and we figure this sort of preorder makes the most of its possibilities, commercially and for our fans.

Hard Target

We’ve picked Origins because it’s one of the first conventions of the summer gaming convention season, and it’s big, and we like going to it.  Strategically, mostly that first thing; if we miss the target of having physical copies at Origins, there’s still a chance of being able to bring the physical thing to a few other game conventions later in the summer, especially if they’re conventions that Indie Press Revolution establishes a presence at, since they carry our stuff and use the same warehouse service we do.

This all brings up the question: what stands between here and the target, and why do we still consider it hard to pin down?

First off, just because we’ve completed the text doesn’t mean the text is done with the editing and revision process. We’ve got the next two months blocked out for what we call “final vetting” (both copy-editing and reading over for consistency), which may cause some members of the team to vanish from public view in fits and bursts.  That gets us to the beginning of 2010.

We’re hoping to get some additional involvement from Jim Butcher as well, but– here’s our scheduling curse in action– we’ve managed to hit this point in our process just as Jim is set to be his busiest ever, continuing his work on Dresden #12, Changes (beware spoilers), and then heading straight into some work to get an anthology of Dresden Files short stories put together.  So we’ve got to put some amorphous padding in our timeline to allow for the possibility of getting some Dresden Files RPG unique content from the man himself.  That might not happen anyway, but if it doesn’t we figure folks will still have plenty of Harry Dresden goodness to console them– both from Jim and from us.

Even outside of that, 2010’s timeline can be pretty hairy.  Let’s take Hero Games’ release of their Sixth Edition product as an example: the book was already in the process of being printed in August, when they ran their preorder at GenCon. So folks got the books just a couple weeks later, right? Wrong– those books have just started shipping this past week.  And all of that was based in the time it took the printer to get the books printed, and the books shipped over and through customs.  And more to the point, this is not unusual at all, so that’s a highly unpredictable several months variable in our schedule.

There’s also plenty that has to do after the text exits the editing and approval stages that will be eating the rest of 2009 and the earliest parts of 2010.  There’s money wrangling, settling on the right printer for the job, and before all that, there’s several months of book design and layout, not to mention some additional art acquisition that will need to be done.

Add all of this up, and even with us being as far along as we are today, on Halloween 2009, we’re still looking at a big chunk of time.  There might be just enough slack in it that we’ll be able to pull off a late June target, but there’s far and away no guarantee. (On the other hand, this is also the first time since our decision to stop announcing dates that we’re willing to, well, announce a date!)

But It’s Still Time For Candy After All

So that’s the trick, but we still think that being able to announce our target date publicly is a pretty good treat.  We’re going to be busy as heck in the coming months, but we’re finally seeing daylight at the end of that long tunnel, and it’s gotten us energized like never before.

In the meantime, we’re going to continue to give y’all biweekly peeks into the game’s content, just like we did with Laws of Magic, Character Types, Harry’s World, and now Old World Order.

And this is far from the last time we’ll be posting explicitly (and at length!) about how well the game is doing and how good our aim at that target is looking to be.  We love to run Evil Hat as transparently as we can, and we’ve got no reason to stop doing that now!

That said, there is something you can do to help make this a success: be noisy about your interest!  Tweet, blog, facebook, or whatever else you like to get the word out.  The less time we have to concentrate on doing that, ourselves, is the more we have to focus our attention on getting the actual thing published. And keep talking with us here, on this site in the comments, or over on the RPG forum at Jim Butcher’s boards.  Our fans are what keep us going in more ways than one!

A Note to the Media

Finally, if you have a podcast or blog and would like to interview us about the project, we’d love to talk with you! Email Ryan Macklin, Lead Project Developer, at ryanmacklin@gmail.com, and he’ll be happy to put you in touch with the team.