#55: Year in Review

I. Dear Reader,

This week, I wanted to do something that I’ve always appreciated other people doing. Which is sharing my itch.io analytics! Disclaimer: There’s not a whole lot to see. I’ve not been very intentional about my design or publishing so far. This was mostly conscious. I didn’t want to pressure myself into being successful when I had so much to learn.

So that said, here is the high level summary:

I released 2 medium sized projects and about 5-8 tiny ones. The two larger projects were The Spider and the City and HyperCity (well, the playtest kit). Across these, I’ve made about 1300$. The majority of this is from these two games. And when you look at the graphs, that’s what the spikes are.

For a more granular breakdown of each game, this contains all the information:

HyperCity, by far, has the most views but The Spider and the City paid me more than double. Which makes sense. It’s a finished game. HyperCity was being crowdfunded on itch. I gave it away for free but if people paid for it, I’d use that to pay for the final version of the game. My favourite detail in this chart is The Magic of Names, my 2 page LeGuin-inspired system, actually being seen at all.

If you’re interested in totals, that’s about 14k views and 5k downloads over a year or so across everything.

I also got one major freelance gig this year - writing for SIN, a supplement for Spire. I’m not sure if anything except my writing samples influenced me getting the gig. But I did have Blades in the Spire, something I made for an itch jam, to my credit. They paid me 20 cents a word with a 10% bonus as a part of the KS’ stretch goal. This worked out to an excellent hourly rate and one of the best assignments I’ve ever had.

I think the last piece of the puzzle is this newsletter. I’ve been selling ads on it from more or less the beginning. I’ve collected roughly about 400$ through those (not including the money that Fate SRD paid me for the sponsorship). If I translate that into hours spent, it’s a teeny-tiny hourly rate. But I’ve never thought of the newsletter as a commercial space so that’s absolutely fine with me.

This is a bit light on ‘learnings’ because I don’t have many. Which might be a good thing. Also I’m not sure I’ve actually learned anything from other people doing this kind of transparency. Mostly it’s just context and some sliver of solidarity. But if it’s learnings you want, maybe the second year will be the comparison that leads to some.

Yours transparently,


II. Media of the Week

I was on the Gauntlet Podcast and I forgot to share the link! This is very on brand for me. I’m more or less always on the watch for things to share here and I forget to share the one I participated in, sigh. On the podcast, I talk about For The Queen (and why it’s such a good introduction to storygames) as well as our fortnightly playtesting meetup and all that it has taught me. It’s safe to say that it has completely changed how I think about playtesting.

Also, this week, here’s Nate Treme making a short video about the entire process that goes into making one of his zines.

III. Links of the Week

Game Design / Theory

  • The Indie Game Developer’s Network had a Summer Marketing Series where various people did seminars or panels on marketing games.

  • Are RPGs totally unique as a medium? Vincent Baker responds on the lumpley games blog.

  • Goblin Archives has a page with a whole bunch of game design resources on one page. It includes SRDs, programs, accessibility tips, etc. These are the kinds of things I bookmark.

  • If you like random tables and want them to have some kind of memory, ladder tables might be interesting to you.



  • I’ve been thinking more about historical games and I came across this page, Gaming the Past, which is about all about education, history and games. It’s mainly video games but it’s still really interesting.

  • A whole lot of cons coming up, including Metatopia which is looking to set up panels.

IV. Small Ads

All links in the newsletter are completely based on my own interest. But to help support my work, this section contains sponsored links and advertisements. If you’d like your products to appear here, read the submission form.

  • The funding campaign for Ex Libris RPG—a new indie & third-party RPG content curation platform—ends Monday morning. Last call for shirts, game sessions, and other exclusive rewards!

  • Forged on the High Seas is a sea-faring, treasure hunting, and mythical adventure powered by the bonds the crew makes! Newly released, check it out here!

  • Fari App is a free and open-source VTT. Build your characters. Make your rolls. Organize your session. Play together. Own your data. Join an open community. Start playing now!

This newsletter is currently sponsored by the all-new, fan-supported Fate-SRD.com. Built to be fast, attractive, and accessible, check out the site for rules, downloads, actual plays, and community.

Hello, dear readers. This newsletter is written by me, Thomas Manuel. I’m half-man, half-beast, half-journalist, half-game designer.

If you’d like to support this newsletter, share it with a friend or buy one of my games from my itch store. If you’d like to say something to me, you can reply to this email or click below!

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