Table Packs

I’m busy working on the handler for .otherwise in TableMaster, which is enough to drive anyone to talk about table packs instead! And it appears there are people who are curious what I’m going to be doing with them, and if there will be new ones.

I’ll answer the second question first, because that one’s easy: damn straight! I’ve already got a big list of notes for what I want to do for a brand-new table pack, and I’ve got at least preliminary notes for a possible second one.

Now, as for the old ones…

I’ll be updating them and re-releasing them. Some of them are looking a bit long in the tooth now, but they’re still useful stuff (unlike some of the more painful pun tables that came as samples. I was just using one called “knots”for testing; yes, it’s a tied table) There are all kinds of things I want to add to improve individual tables. For instance, playing computer games like WoW and Diablo has really opened my eyes to the wide variety of stuff that can be found in the classic dungeon; the dungeon dressing table is going to get a major boost. (some of the things I found the last time I cleaned out the fridge might make an appearance there, too!)

A lot of things have changed since I first wrote those tables — starting with us not having to use filenames like SHIPCRGO.TBL anymore. Also, many of them were written to work with some of the earliest versions of TableMaster and thus some don’t take advantage of the more advanced features. So all the tables will be brought up to modern standards and be given better names.

In addition, I’ll be expanding or otherwise improving many of the tables, and very probably adding some new ones to each pack. I’ve had 16 years to think of things that I really should have put in there, after all! And there are a lot of those things. Ideas for tables are all around me. Most of them have nothing to do with gaming at all.

For instance, I’ve got a mobile hanging over my desk that’s a bunch of photographs I’ve taken hanging from little clips. As I looked up, just now, the breeze from the fan blew two of them to the front: a tall ship at Salem, MA, and an side-wheeler excursion ship on Lake Winnipesaukee that a group I was with went on some years ago. Old ships. Pseudo-vintage photos (I was messing with filters). Instant idea: Ships at docks. Type of ship, cargo, captain, crew, something about where it’s from, secrets it holds, anything else I can think of that might relate to a ship. That’s where tables come from.  And now that one will probably be in one of the re-released Fantasy Table Packs … and a variant with starships instead for the SF Table Pack. I’m not sure if I could do anything for the Apocalypse pack with that, but I’ll probably think of something. (convoys?)

So, that’s what you have to look forward to: overhauled and updated versions of all four existing table packs, and at least one new table pack.  There will definitely be some kind of package deal for all of them! Plus, as I mentioned a few posts ago, there will be a new version of the old Arcane Alphabets font package, now including stuff like the graph paper and hex paper fonts. (and remember, you can pick up the old version of the hex paper font free off Wintertree Redux)

A few months ago I had no inkling I’d ever touch TableMaster again. Now I’ve got a running program — far from feature-complete, but the first TM of any sort that’s run on anything past Win98 — and I’m shopping for good prices on screen-printed T-shirts. Life can be weird sometimes.

Now that I actually have a program rather than a pipe dream, the thought of doing a Kickstarter project to frontload sales a bit seems more practical. It could give me an idea of whether it’s worth going to DragonCon, too. One big problem, though, is that I have no idea what I can offer for perks besides TableMaster itself. Some old manuals from that box I found? (would anyone even want one?) Get some new T-shirts made up? I buy you dinner at Hard Rock Cafe at DragonCon? I dunno, it’s sounding pretty lame.

2 thoughts on “Table Packs”

  1. There’s a problem with lots and lots of Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects: too many perks.

    Seriously.

    So if you do a crowdfunding effort, make sure it’s not something that’s going to eat you alive in costs to produce and ship. Thereby sinking the whole project.

    If you do something that’s going to cost out the yin yang, make sure to overprice it, because when you do get to ship them, the cost of shipping will likely to have increased. Not to mention that you may have to hire help to get them packaged and shipped.

    As for digital fulfillment, look into Amazon Web Services (AWS). If not for the web storefront hosting, at least for the storage and file download bandwidth. They have a nice structure for outlining the bandwidth increases as the demand increases and scales back as the demand decreases. And you only pay for what bandwidth was actually used. At my last job my manager was moving to a new group and was asking me to look into AWS as a way to get me into his new group. It didn’t work out but I learned a bit about AWS in the meantime. All the documentation for the various parts of AWS are freely downloadable from Amazon, too.

  2. I’m not worried about needing help to package and ship TableMaster. If a Kickstarter project sold 100 items I’d be over the moon, and I can do that myself in an afternoon. Given that the perks are likely to be table packs, etc., even more so.

    Much the same is true for AWS. I’m never going to come close to needing it. It would take a lot to hammer my server. wintertreeredux.com is on the commercial VPS that I use for website hosting — remember, since I gafiated I’ve been a freelance website designer — and I’ve had clients on there who did more business than I ever will; TableMaster is just not one of your high-demand items. I love it, and I think it’s the best game aid ever written, (and I’m modest too!) but I’m realistic: the market isn’t that big. I’m hoping it’ll be bigger than it was 20 years ago — especially if I do a tablet version — but this isn’t going to be like the next Windows or something.

    I do have one advantage over a lot of people doing crowdfunding: I know what is involved in selling TableMaster by mail. After all, I did it for seven years. I know what goes into it from designing product packaging to mailing out the boxes. I’ve done that. Unlike some of the other people who have done this stuff (and whose stuff I’ve backed …) I wouldn’t have the excuse of “well, I didn’t know what I was getting into.”

    That said, it’s still just a speculative idea, not something I’m probably going to do. It would frontload sales a bit, giving me more working capital, but really, what do I need to spend it on? This isn’t like a manufacturing project where a company needs to pay the factory in China that turns out a container load of widgets, or the cost of shipping a container to them for that matter. And it would be embarrassing if I only got 3 backers or something. :(

    So, yeah, probably not going to happen unless I can think of a better reason for doing it than for not doing it. So far, there’s an elephant on the “no” side of the scales and a mouse on the “yes” side.

    And, really, what could I offer? “Oh, wow, if I spend $X, Wintertree will send me an original TableMaster manual, too! I really have to do that instead of waiting for the thing to be released and reading a review or two, because I can’t live without a manual from 20 years ago for a different version of the program beaucoup upgrades ago.” Yeah. Totally not going to happen. Unless I can think of something people might want more than T-shirts, it wouldn’t stand a chance.

    So, on the remote chance this did come about, what sort of perks would you want well enough to pay for? Can you think of anything?

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