When we first started publishing games, we used to do little 10-page digest sized books called Qik Paks. The sales pitch was that they were short, easy-to-use books for only a couple of bucks. The reality was that back in those days we couldn't afford to print real books. When print on demand services became available and we could afford real books, we moved away from Qik Paks to focus on longer, full-sized books. A few years ago when we decided to jump into the PDF market, we discussed idea of doing short, low cost PDFs along the lines of Qik Paks, but the idea never really took. This was in part becuase we were used to the bigger books, partly because we kind of looked at Qik Paks as something we'd outgrown, and partly because we still weren't too sure about this whole "PDF" thing all the kids were talking about (when it comes to the idea of electronic books, most of us are pretty Luddite in our ways).
In the past year or so, a few things have happened. For one thing, PDF sales have been good to us, and we've noticed a correlation between regular product releases and steady sales, so raw greed is definitely a factor. We've also become more comfortable with the idea that not all of our products have to be released in printed form (though we're still considering some kind of print anthologies eventually). Most importantly, though, Josh Burnett showed up one day last year with Funkadelic Frankenstein on the Mean Streets of Monstertown. Although it was less than 10 pages long, the PDF reminded us that it is indeed possible to write a complete, self-contained QAGS supplement that was short, to the point, and most importantly, AWESOME. The great feedback we got when we released the PDF sealed the deal, and Qik Paks were reborn.
We're going to be releasing a new Qik Pak-style PDF every month in 2010, usually around the middle of the month. Each PDF will be somewhere between 8 and 20 pages long and retail for a dollar or two. The first three months are all mapped out:
Happilyeverafter (January 17): The ads make it all look so slick. “Bored with your humdrum existence in Fairytaleland? Come experience the wonder of Happilyeverafter--and remember: what happens in Happilyeverafter stays in Happilyeverafter.” Notice how they don’t mention the seedier side of this pixie-dust paradise? That’s where you come in, ‘cause Happilyeverafter is your beat.
Mars & Venus at War (February): This is a brand-new version of one of our original Qik Paks, completely revised and featuring great new art. When private detectives from the Herrick Agency are called in to investigate a murder, they discover that undercover agents from Mars and Venus have been secretly using earth as a staging ground and sometimes battlefield in their interplanetary war against one another.
Waxman's Warriors (March): Eternity in Hell is just as unpleasant as it sounds, so when a group of sinners find out that they may be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and confront God Himself, they accept the mission. After all, what do they have to lose? The Dirty Dozen meet Jack Chick in this exciting afterlife adventure that puts the "fun" back in "fundamentalism!"
These will be followed by The Pytheas Club (a game about Victorian gentleman adventurers), American Artifacts (a collection of uniquely American objects of power), and Orgone Nation (a game about living in the U.S.A. after the (sex) bomb). We're not 100% sure about the release order of these three, but they'll be the second wave of Qik Paks. Like the Time-Life books, others will follow, one about every other month.
In addition to the Qik Paks, we'll also be working on several longer books, including new Hex author (and longtime Knome) Robert McCabe's long-awaited Sex, Lies, and Ultraspies. The larger books will be released whenever they're ready to go, though we still haven't decided whether they'll take the place of that month's Qik Pak or be treated as a special bonus release. As usual, we've got a ton of projects in the works, so I'm not going to even try to list them all. Instead, I'll just tell you that the three projects that I'm personally really looking forward to working on this year are M-Force 2nd Edition, Roller Girls Vs., and Hobomancer: The Unbecoming, which I'll tell you more about in a future edition of this column. Until then, look for Happilyeverafter on Sunday and a new PDF from Hex every moth all year long.
For some reason, I feel like I should end this column with "Excelsior!" but Stan Lee's already taken that one. If you've got any good suggestions, let me know.