The 2013 ENnies nominations have been announced and voting is now open. I recently spoke with Steven James Black, Assistant Director at DramaScape, about his company’s recent ENnie nomination. DramaScape’s Ancient Temple Interior map was nominated in the Best Cartography category. Voting begins on Monday, July 22 and runs to Wednesday, July 31. The ceremony itself will be on Friday, August 16, in the Union Station Grand Hall at 8 pm with the cocktail reception beginning at 6:30 pm.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.
Simon James Black (SJB): Simon Powell and Steven J Black created DramaScape in January 2012 with RedBrick LLC as the publisher. In May 2012, DramaScape left RedBrick LLC and became its own separate company and publisher on DriveThruRPG.
DramaScape produces a wide range of maps in a gamut of genres; primitive worlds (The Lost World), westerns (Schoolhouse on the Prairie, Sheriff Office), fantasy (Ancient Temple + Interior, etc.), Victorian England (Baker Street), horror (The Asylum), modern (City Slums), near and far future science fiction (Street Level), post-apocalyptic (Modern Ruins), as well as vehicles for fantasy (River Barge, The Raven Airship) and science fiction (The Basilisk Lander, The Tug). Our maps include the image files so you can place them into virtual tabletop maps. We have several of these maps available on Print on Demand as well. In addition to set maps, we also have modular maps such as our SciFi Floor Tiles.
We also produce figure flat miniatures across several genres; primitive (Lost World Miniatures), horror (Horror Miniatures), fantasy (Fantasy Creatures), modern (World War II Miniatures), and science fiction (Marines and Aliens Miniatures). Our top down miniatures versus line includes two armies and a battle map. The top down miniatures can also be used as virtual tokens in virtual tabletop programs, doubling their utility.
Our newest product is a set of Science Fiction Weapon/Equipment cards for Savage Worlds. They are available in both PDF and Print on Demand through DriveThruCards. The Sci-Fi Weapon Cards print on demand turned out fantastic. They can be a real time saver for Game Masters running a Savage Worlds Sci-Fi game at a con. Rather than write down weapon stats on the character sheet, pass the player a card and they have a reference for the weapons that they are equipped with. The PDF (free with the POD purchase) also has blank cards in the same layout that can be used to make your own weapon/equipment cards.
MT: Why should voters vote for The Ancient Temple Interior?
SJB: The Ancient Temple Interior was produced as an expansion to our Ancient Temple map that shows the Exterior view. It was the first Print on Demand map we produced and the first one up for sale on DriveThruRPG as Print on Demand. For DramaScape, its not just another map, it’s a symbol of a change in the map industry. We can produce digital PDFs and can also create POD maps now, giving us a new distribution method as map sellers on DriveThruRPG. The Ancient Temple map is also a fantastic map itself, evoking that thrill of adventure as archaeologists, tomb raiders, or heroes try and acquire a hoard of treasure from a place trapped to deny them access to such riches. Game Masters can increase the difficulty with animated statues and tribes or cults worshipping gods thought long dead.
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
SJB: The gaming industry is slowly changing. Playing on the tabletop requires access to nearby friends and is a lot of fun. But if friends don’t live close by, the virtual tabletop through programs like maptools or roll20 and access to programs like skype or google + hangouts allow gamers a new level of communication and connection to people far away. Gaming is reinventing itself and moving more towards online play facilitated by these means. Publishers are also evolving through PDF distribution allowing smaller companies a way to get into the marketplace and POD distribution gives them another tool that allows them to compete as the RPG hobby industry evolves.
MT: How hard is it for a game publisher in this economy?
SJB: It is hard for a smaller game publisher in a down economy as people have less money to spend. Smaller companies should focus on high quality products that can be used in the new interactive virtual tabletop model and are also very useful to anyone playing on the tabletop with a group of friends, bridging the gap as it were. PDFs and digital media are also not constrained the same way as the previous print run model. Since they don’t have the cost of printing a physical book copy, sales/coupons for PDFs should be embraced with open arms. In a down economy full price sometimes does not work, but 25% or 50% off does work to get those sales.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model, if at all?
SJB: We have not done any Kickstarters ourselves. However, we did assist in the Shaintar Savage Worlds Kickstarter by offering six of our maps for free to backers of $100.00 or more with six one-sheet Shaintar Savage Worlds adventures to be produced to go with our maps.
MT: What is next for your company?
SJB: Currently we are creating a series of mining orientated maps. We have a couple of board games in production. In addition to that, we have a setting called Tribes of Yggsdrasil based on the series of novels by Hugh B. Long that we are converting into a Savage Worlds setting.
MT: Will you be at Gen Con 2013?/Where?
SJB: I will be at Gen Con 2013. I’m running 7 Earthdawn sessions on Thursday, Friday (and rushing to the ENnies after that) and Saturday and should be at the joint Studio 2/FASA Games Inc./DramaScape booth on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. We are hoping to sell a DVD of PDFs all our first year products (current up to the end of May 2013, 91 maps and miniatures products total catalogued) at Gen Con.
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
- Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DramaScape
- Google + community: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/102550450568545190280
- DramaScape main website: http://www.DramaScape.net/
- DramaScape forum: http://dramascapepublic.forumatic.com/index.php
MT: Anything else you would like to share?
SJB: Every month we release a freebie on DriveThruRPG, usually a free map. Make sure to join the DramaScape forum. There are some exclusive maps, minis, and discounts that you can only get by joining our forum.
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