At $250 the reward tier is called "Associate Game Designer" and, essentially, means that you will be given a piece of the book to write/develop. You will work with their team of experienced game designers and get your work critiqued, developed, and eventually - potentially/presumably - published in the book along with your name in the credits as an Associate Game Designer. You also get a bunch of the other cool reward tiers (i.e. a copy of the book, etc) This is an exciting option for a lot of people, and is also why my cousin recommended it to me. However, it is also worrying in a couple senses as well.
I couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly had me worried about it, but I had theories. To confirm them I randomly - and completely out of the blue - tweeted Chuck Wendig and Fred Hicks a link to the kickstarter and asked their opinion on the $250 pledge level. For those that don't know, Chuck Wendig is a professional author who is breaking a lot of fun ground in Urban Fantasy but he got his start doing a LOT of freelance work in the RPG industry including White Wolf games (Hunter: The Vigil is his baby, among a LONG list of other books.) Fred Hicks is the guy in charge of Evil Hat. This gives an interesting duality as both of their initial reactions came from the place they work.
Chuck Wendig's response was: it's interesting but as a Creative Human I am not excited by the idea of PAYING to create content for someone.
Fred Hicks's response was: They are making a lot more work for themselves with at best variable returns on quality and at worst some irreconcilable troubles when the folks who pay have a radically different vision than what works.
He then added in response to Chuck Wendig's post
This is a good point too. If someone’s looking to break into the industry, “pay to play” is not the way.
Not exactly the highest of endorsements, but it is what this kickstarter pledge is about. You are paying $250 of your money and a portion of that money - not all of it as you are getting physical goods as well - is being paid so that you can lend your creativity to the product.
Red Aegis's Lead Designer Responds
Cool enough as this age of technology is, Brian R James reached out to me on twitter when he, presumably, saw the conversation/link about his product. I sent him two questions via twitter and he emailed me a response.
The two questions were:
- What are your guys hopes with the Associate Game Designer tier?
- Any direct response to the general consensus against "Pay To Create" or how what you guys are doing is different?
Brian R James's response:
The intent behind the Associate Game Designer tier was to offer backers a meaningful opportunity to contribute directly to the RED AEGIS project. I’ve backed many RPG Kickstarter project over the last few years, and many of them offered a higher tier awards allowing the backer to name a city, NPC in the world, etc… To some gamers that is an enticing reward. “See that city on the map? It’s named after my dog!” I personally think those kinds of rewards are corny, but some kickstarter campaigns have proven them to be quite popular. When I was brainstorming the higher tier pledges for RED AEGIS, I wanted to offer something much more meaningful… the chance to shape the game itself.
is the Vorpal Games team handling this differently? Foremost, this is not an unpaid writing credit. This is an opportunity for someone enthusiastic about game design (and really into RED AEGIS!) to see the process from the inside and to have one-on-one contact with a professional (and in many cases, award-winning) designer who knows the ropes and can help the backer improve their craft. The backer will have the opportunity to pitch their design idea, have it vetted and refined by an industry insider, and (assuming the pitch is viable in our game) secure a PAYING contract for the work. Not everyone will think that $250 is worth (really, $100, plus all the rewards from the previous tier) the cost of mentoring and I respect that.ng and I respect that.
So What Does This Mean?
When you put the three responses together you get a pretty good image of both what Vorpal Games is trying to do with this project and reward tier, and solid advice for people trying to break into the industry. The advice? Do not give away anything you create to people who are going to sell it.
But what about this reward tier? Well, honestly, look at Brian's answer. Do this right and you get a paid contract for your work. Do it wrong...and well, the only way to do it wrong is to not do it at all once in.
Essentially, what I am getting from Brian's response is that you should not do the $250 reward tier if all you are after is your name in the book as a credit. That is a disservice to you and your work, as well as to them and their project.However, if you are excited about the project, really want to help, and also want the experience of working with a professional award winning team? Then do it. Do it and learn from the experience. Learn what it is like to work in the industry on something small and turn that experience to work for you.
Do it to learn something and to gain experience. Not just to put your name on a book.
Oh, and best of luck to the guys behind this product. It does look awesome.