I’m currently in the final stages of getting the Book of the River Nations: Complete Player’s Reference for Kingdom Building ready to go to the printer. There is a lot of work involved in that. Getting all the edits in, making sure the artwork looks good on the page, arguing with my editor over one words on the back cover, making sure all the funds to send the printer are in one account and plenty more.
Yet even with all that going on, I’m starting the process for my next major project. I’ve got one artist already working on some monsters and I just contacted an artist about the cover. I’ve got freelancers already lined up to tackle various sections of the writing. So that part is already moving forward. But even with all this, this project is quickly turning into the biggest one I’ve done yet. My original estimates for a time frame have already been pushed back 6 months, possibly even a year. This project is just that big.
That’s the thing with the gaming industry, there’s never a dull moment. Every day brings new and exciting challenges. And as I move more from being a hobby publisher towards becoming a professional, the more my timelines are getting longer and longer. As time goes on, the more I have to work ahead to maintain a consistant schedule.
That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it is harder to predict what is going to be in demand that much further out. For example, if someone says online, “Man I really wish I had more gothic monsters for this adventure path I’m getting ready to run,” I can produce a pdf of 5 monsters in a week or two. I know what is in demand and then I fill that demand. No problem. But will this project I am working on be in demand come Christmas? I just don’t know. I hope it is, but my crystal ball broke a year or so ago and I haven’t taken the time to replace it yet.
Larger companies work in a similar fashion. Wizards and Paizo have said they work with a 12-18 month lead time. So Paizo is coordinating authors for a currently unannounced adventure path that is set to release about a year from now. Or to put it another way, Mike Mearls and Robert Schwalb probably started writing the Heroes of Shadow book that comes out later this month sometime around Thanksgiving 2009 (roughly when many 4E Eberron games were just starting up).
So I just keep plucking away, hoping that my awesome future project hits demand perfectly. But only time will tell.