ZineQuest 2021 Post-mortem

filed under game design and layout on 06 Aug 2021
tagged design, duet, fitd, solo, and zinequest

Last February, I participated in ZineQuest, kickstarting a small project I’ve been working on ever since. Where Mystery Dwells, a solo and duet troupe-based game, forged in the dark and with a central cycle inspired by The Skeletons. It’s a riff on my own Threat, one of my earlier OMGAM games, and one I very much enjoyed soloing.

After many months of work, the pdf has been released to backers (a couple of months ago), and the last of the physical copies is in the mail (as of yesterday). The itch.io page is live, with community copies available as of this writing! Retail print options are in the works/waiting on proofs to arrive. All promises have been met, and what little remains is in the hands of the USPS from here.

It was a good process, one I’m glad I partook in, and I learned a lot.

I tripped myself up. Taking an idea from fun idea through funded idea, and then to a written, playable, and polished game, requires a lot of hats. Literally no one was clamoring for me to finish, or demanding I make it perfect, or insisting that I produce like a AAA company in the whimsical one-person Zinequest scope. I did it to myself. Pandemic, lockdown, anxiety, etc. did not help here, but my biggest enemy was myself, by far. I fully own this, and it’s one of the biggest, most humbling lessons I learned here.

On the positive side, I was kept busy (my kids appreciate this, especially the occasional need for takeout when I lost track of time), and I learned a ton about all the areas of making a book as a one-person operation, to the point I feel a whole lot more confident going forward. And I treasure bookmaking as a skill and a hobby, one I had no idea I would love so much!

I wasn’t business-minded enough. I felt constrained by ZQ “norms”, didn’t respect my own boundaries, and discovered too late (because I failed to do due diligence and I put all my eggs in one basket) that virtually every printing option except one (again, the ZQ norm) would cost at least or, in some cases, more than, the total I asked for per unit. I also committed the classic mistake of not paying myself, telling myself that I’d probably pay me later, when it was done, when I was committing to do the work upfront. I wouldn’t dream of asking someone else to do that, but I signed myself up for easily upwards of $1000 worth of services (not even product or art, services like writing, layout, and proofing).

Ultimately, I am immensely proud of myself, and what I’ve accomplished here, with the backing of a lot of good folks who were patient, forgiving, and kind. I am satisfied that I’ve produced a solid and quirky solo & duet game, that also happens to be a beautiful piece of ephemera, and delivered on my kickstarter campaign’s promises in full. That I’ve gained skills and possibly a a milestone level or two in the printer class. And that I have learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of.

Here’s to delivering on promises, and here’s to where the journey takes us next!