This Friday is Jon Brazer Enterprises’ second anniversary. Two years ago we released our first product (a 16-page character sheet for the Traveller RPG). Now here we are, two years later and going strong. It’s times like this that I like to reflect and see where we’ve been and where we are going.
It’s hard to imagine, but two years ago D&D 4E was celebrating its first anniverserary, Pathfinder RPG was in beta test and the edition wars were going strong. I formed Jon Brazer Enterprises for two main reasons: 1) a large number of small publishers (the publishers I was trying to write for) were either folding or making their own systems, and 2) no one knew how this D&D 4E/Pathfinder struggle would play out. JBE first started with Traveller because it was an OGL game from a major publisher and it was science fiction. Everyone at JBE was raised on Star Wars and Star Trek and still enjoys sci-fi like Starship Troopers and Firefly. Using Traveller seemed only logical for us. We started off with Starship Troopers-style space creatures and moved onto tech like robots and power armor.
It didn’t take long for the Pathfinder 3rd party market to really take off. After a test product selling better than anything we released for Traveller, it was quickly obvious that we’d be able to do well with Pathfinder. We kept producing new material for Traveller while slowly creating material for Pathfinder.
So here we are today. We support two solid systems: one for SF and one for fantasy. But what have we learned in that time? There’s quite a bit we can take from all our good times and our less than good times. Here are a few of them.
Remember compliments you receive; forget the insults. We’ve received some glowing reviews over these past two years and we’ve received some really stinky reviews. The ones I remember the most are the good reviews. The one where the reviewer said “This product is a godsend,” sticks firmly in my mind. Meanwhile the one that said, “I can only barely recommend it,” doesn’t stay with me much, mostly because it would appear the product is a bad fit for the customer. Yet these two reviews are about the same product. Its important to remember that you can never make everyone happy all the time. No matter how good of a job you do, somone is not going to be happy with it. While every negative review has criticism that should be taken to heart and show you how you can improve, no one should dwell on the negative. Instead, focusing on the praise keeps you writing and encourages you to keep going.
Not everyone is you. Just because you like something and just because you understand why something is the way it is doesn’t mean anyone else will see it the same way. Its easy to think, “Oh, I get this and see how this is useful in everyone’s game,” but the opposite is more often true. Sometimes you have to do a bit more of an introduction to a given product to make sure everyone is on the same page. Other times, no matter how hard you explain it, it might only prove useful in your own game. Sometimes you just need to accept that not everyone is you.
Tomorrow is another day. Everyone has a bad day. Somedays you get negative reviews or comments, find yourself unable to write, feel that your family or day job are beating you down, and life in general sucks. This happens to everyone. And no matter what, you pick yourself up the next day and start writing again. Because every new day is exactly what you make of it. If you let your problems hold you down, you’re not going to rise to your full potential. Push onto your goal and keep going. You’ll eventually achieve it.