I just posted another article to my Game Design Mastery Patreon, and I thought that I’d talk about a few lessons from the first however long it’s been. 6 weeks? Something like that.
Overall it’s been great, though it’s not gone entirely as planned. Mostly what I mean is just that it’s taken a lot longer to get going than I’d hoped. The vast majority of this is down to stuff outside the Game Design Mastery project, so my slowness on Patreon is, in some ways, collateral damage from that. However, some of the pace is intrinsic.
It would have been easier if I’d waited till everything was in place to start, with all the initial articles written and so on. That would have been easier, though I don’t think it would have been as useful for the patrons, which is why I didn’t do it. To start with, I’m very happy with my last-minute idea to get the patrons to choose the topics for the GDM articles. That meant I needed to start and find out who the patrons were and what they wanted before I wrote things. However, it also meant that the articles I did write were the ones they voted for, so presumably they’re more useful to more people – and that’s the whole point.
The other GDM thing that’s slowed me down is the length of the articles. That’s entirely self-inflicted. I was originally thinking of them as the sort of thing I’ve written on here, but a little longer. In fact, they’re turning out a great deal longer. I’ve finished two so far: the first on adapting multi-player co-op games to solo play was 3,000 words. The second, on structure and uses of playtesting, was just shy of 5,700 words. I’m working on the third and fourth now, and they’re not small either. This all comes from my approach. Basically, I’m trying to channel 30 years’ worth of experience into my answer to each question, because that’s how I think of the topics the patrons choose. They’re a question about something: “what do you know about…? Do you have any tips or tricks for…? Is there anything I should know to avoid when…? So I’m trying to cover as much as I can each time. In addition, I’ve not got a specific number of magazine or book pages to fill, so I can write as long as I’ve got something to say. This means that each article is as long as it needs to be, and I’ve no idea what that will be when I start. I’m sure I could have thought of a way to make this easier, but then they wouldn’t have been as good and I’d have felt like I was short-changing folk. In other words, the extra effort is entirely selfish.
I also delayed myself by trying to get them laid out nicely using software I wasn’t familiar with. That’s just me biting off more than I could chew and it wasted a bunch of time. My bad. For the moment I’ve uploaded them as Word pdfs, just to get the content up. That’s 90% of the value. The rest is mostly just prettiness. I’ll revisit that at some stage, once all the content is up and being added to as promised.
Finally, I had this idea that I could do a weekly snapshot of behind the scenes design and development. Turns out that’s way harder than I thought. I suppose the primary issue is that thinking and computer work aren’t very photogenic, and that’s the bulk of what I do. More time spent in prep would have uncovered this. Still, I’m not feeling too bad about this as it’s forcing me to be creative, and I’ve made some progress. Expect to see more of that aspect soon…
Overall, I’m very thankful to my select band of loyal patrons. I think of these brave souls as my elite recon team, volunteering for a secret mission from which they may never return, and in the event helping to scout out the dangerous wilds of Patreon. They’ve been invaluable. We’ve had some great chats on the Discord channel, and I look forward to many more. Hopefully we’ll also get some more volunteers to join their ranks.
Overall, it’s been a bit of a choppy start in places, but we’re still here, still making progress, and we seem to be out of the worst of it now. Once this initial tranche of articles is done it will be much easier to keep up with the regular monthly addition I’d planned, plus the odd bonus one. All told, the good ship GDM Patreon is looking at a bright horizon now, and clearer sailing ahead.
If you fancy joining our merry band, just click the link or read the article to see what’s it’s all about. We’re waiting to welcome you on board!
The GDM Patreon is also turning out to be a great co-operative brain trust for independent and aspiring game designers. The Discord sharing of knowledge, experience and contacts makes it worth the price of admission alone, for me. But I will also be reading your articles! Promise!
Very true. The Discord hivemind is a great resource in its own right, and will only get better the more synapses we add 🙂
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of the articles. As always, feedback helps me to improve, and I’m happy to do updated versions if I’ve missed something important. I called it the GDM *library* because I want people to be able to use it for reference when they have a question. Over time we’ll cover all the basics and move deeper into the intriguing nuance of Game Design. That’s going to be really exciting.
So, how much are you earning from this per month, if you don’t mind me asking?
Before I answer, I’m curious. Why does that matter?
It’s an objective metric that allows us to measure how successful the Patreon is in economic terms. It says nothing about the quality of your work, or how much either you or your Patreon members enjoy it, but it does give an indication on what one can reasonably expect from Patreon as a business venture. It’s not really about you and I’m not a tax man, it’s about Game Design Patreons.
At present it’s less than £50 a month, so it’s not even covering my games addiction, let alone being a living wage. As a business venture it goes nowhere with this few patrons. But that’s only if you judge it as it stands right now. I expect it to do better once it has a bit more in it, and also when I spend more effort promoting it. Not done that yet. How much better it can do I have no idea. We’ll have to wait and see.
One reason that the amount is not visible on the site is that I don’t think it should be about that and folk get distracted, as you have, by the money (or lack of it). I’m far more interested in building a community of people who are invested in exploring how they can learn about the art and how they can get better at it. It’s also a way to pass on some of my 30 years’ experience to people who cannot afford to pay the full rate for consultancy. It’s not bespoke, but it’s as close as you’ll get for £2 a month.
Also, the advice I’ve seen is usually to build a big audience outside Patreon before you launch it, which I didn’t do for various reasons. That’s the more financially sound approach, though it may take a long time finding that audience.