Thursday, June 10, 2010

Five Years

So, there are now two copies of each of the Dresden Files RPG books in my house. They are, not to put to fine a point on it, freaking gorgeous.

It's somewhat unreal to look at them and consider how long it took to get here. Five Years. In that time, Fred and I have both had kids and changed careers. We've faced accusations of the game being vaporware, as well as every other fan driven complaint you can imagine. We've also had more kind words, expressions of enthusiasm and support, and general good-human-contact than I would have even thought possible, once upon a time.

I am pretty sure that, five years ago, neither of us even imagined books like these. We were simply not this ambitious, and the costs and business decisions involved in making a product like this would have been something we'd have absolutely balked. It was so far beyond anything we could accomplish that the very idea would have merited a laugh. Yet here we are. In a little over a week we're getting on the road to Origins and are going to start selling this to people.

It's crazy, but I hope there are some useful lessons in it.

See, here's the thing - for all that Dresden's going to be decently big (by RPG standards) we're still a pretty small shop. We can do most of what we do because Fred is a dedicated, driven guy who has chosen to make this his focus, not because of any magical excess of talent[1] or brilliance. And being a small shop is a big deal because it means we can take forever bringing a product to market because we're crazily picky[2], and we don't have the kind of deadlines and schedules that come from this being the source of our paycheck. We are incredibly fortunate in this regard.

It's still not entirely real yet. I feel some accomplishment looking at the physical books, and I think we've done well by Jim. These are important things. But I think I need to get through Origins to really convince myself that it's done. That from that point forward it's all fan support and inventory management.

And at that point, I may finally be able to let the next thing out of the box in a my head, and see what it wants to do.

1 - Ok, we cheat a little because Fred's got some solid layout chops; I've watched him earn those over the years. But that is genuinely only a sideshow to the sheer amount of talent, focus and dedication Fred brings to the table. Somewhere down the line I need to talk up exactly how awesome the whole DFRPG team is, but at this moment I want to point to Fred and say, "Damn, man, that's how it's done." I have watched him grow into this role with passion and intensity much as I am watching him do the same with fatherhood, and I could not be prouder (or luckier) to call this man my friend.

2 - Or we can rush something out if we're excited. Freedom, baby!


  1. I've been soaking in it for the last few months and it's not real to me yet either. It might not be real for a year yet. I need to see the thing in the rear-view mirror to get a sense of it actually being real and being behind me.

  2. Here via Drivingblind's LJ

    I've been a fan of the Dresden books since I met Jim Butcher at a Lunacaon a few years back. Thanks for the hard work. I'm amazed by the game you guys put out, and can't wait to get the actual hardcover.

  3. I've been so impressed with the whole thing over the last few years. I went to avid fan boy "ooh, when am I going to get me some Dresden?" to an Alpha Burner, a podcaster who's talked about your game, and now finally player in a weekly game, and prepping to run it at cons. Each time I've interfaced with the game itself or any of the team making it, I've walked away so impressed with all the dedication that has been put into it. You guys are awesome, and this game is going to be a landmark of that.

  4. Damn. This brought tears to my eyes. Damn you! :)

    Not sure what I could add to the breaker waves of congratulations you've received that will undoubtedly presage a tsunami of them, other than "Huzzah! Y'all did right f**king good here, right f**king good indeed."

  5. I think it's a mistake to believe that you have only incredible fortune to thank for the freedom you get out of being a small shop. That's a choice—a legitimate choice, and a good one. It's often better for the shop, and its customers.

  6. Just occurred to me -- will I be able to demo this at GenCon?

  7. Great job, guys. Congratulations.

    And thanks for sharing. It's fun to feel to be at least in some teeny small way to a part of the overall process. It's what makes our community great and you guys at Evil Hat have embraced that to your benefit and the whole hobby's.

    I hope Dresden flies off the table. I suspect you may have a line-up that rivals Pathfinders from last year (scales will be different, but intensity and dedication probably the same). For whoever is working the table, I recommend a good wrist and knee warm-up before the doors open, as well as lots of easy to grab, healthy snacks and water nearby. You're going to be busy.

  8. I'm incredibly impressed just reading the PDFs I got with my preorder, I'm near-quivering to see it in all it's glossy glory!

    Congrats, guys!

  9. I expect GenCon to be a madhouse, and only a small number of Evil Hatters will be there (Ryan Macklin, Clark Valentine, and Amanda Valentine). But if you're gonna have a shot at demoing it, drop by the IPR booth -- IPR is the exclusive vendor for the RPG at GenCon this year.

  10. I hear you about having to see Origins behind me to believe it's done (and not just because I'm still working on DFRPG Origins prep right now).

    There's a very specific toast I have prepared for us EHP folk at Origins. For my part, that's how I'll feel closed out this journey. While it wasn't as long for me as it was for you, it was still tiring, costly, and completely worthwhile.

    - Ryan

  11. Congratulations to you all for a job well done. And all the playtesters and other people of course. It looks good judging from the PDFs, and no doubt in a month or two I'll be saying the same thing about the physical copies.

    So when is the Dresden Files Companion due out? <evil grin>

  12. Rob, this week I finished a minor project I'd theoretically been working on for about the same amount of time. (It was more like getting rid of an albatross around my neck.) I am surprised by the sense of anticlimax I've been feeling; considering the amount of blood, sweat, toil, and tears in DFRPG, y'all are probably feeling a bit of that as well.

    It won't sink in for a while yet, but there will be something - something someone will say or a random thought that will occur to you - that will bring it all home. Just wait. I suspect it may be demoing and selling it to real flesh-and-blood people on the floor at Origins.

  13. As the resident girl on the team (plus an emotional person by nature, I guess) I expect to do a LOT of crying as I see these actual books being bought by actual people! I feel so honored to be a part of the team that brought this together.


  14. For some perspective about the length of time... it struck me that in the future, if someone were to ask me what I did with my life in my 20s, I would have to tell them that I mainly worked on a roleplaying game.

    It's been a long, strange road. I'm still waiting for that moment when I hold the books in my hand. There will be much drinking.

  15. That moment is coming at you like a freight train^H^H^H^H^Htruck, Lenny. :)

  16. I have to say that I am enjoying the game very much (still just reading) and the blood, sweat, and (madness tainted) tears show through.

    May not mean much, but I appreciate all the hard work.

    If I get the chance, I would be happy to buy you all a round (GenCon maybe?)


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