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12 to Midnight

12 to Midnight Year in Review–2006

01.03.07 | 1 Comment

This is also posted on the 12 to Midnight front page, but I figured most of the people who visit this blog do so because of 12toM, so it is probably of interest to you.

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As is tradition at the beginning of a new year, I thought I’d provide a look back at 2006 and share an insider’s view of the ups and downs of a small publishing company. Although last year we published strong, well-written new games to be proud of, in some ways it was disappointing because we started the year with the expectation of much higher output. We began 2006 with five completed drafts, and we anticipated publishing six titles each released in two game systems. Instead, we released only two new titles and a third compilation title. Here’s what happened.

12 to Midnight started the year with the release of a strong adventure, Skinwalker, for both the d20 and Savage Worlds systems. Unfortunately, it had been more than half a year since our prior release and I think some of our fans had forgotten about us. Sales were adequate, but not overwhelming.

Before Skinwalker had even been released, we’d been given the opportunity to release one of our titles in print distribution. For a company with no brand awareness outside the PDF market, a book in print available in game stores could be a big boost or a big financial sinkhole. Opportunity comes to those who take chances, so we rolled the dice. (Hey, we’re gamers!) Even though we chose Bloodlines for its high initial production values, we took it through another round of proofing and re-layout optimized for print instead of PDF. I am afraid that the two months we spent on this took its toll on our momentum when we could have been working on new titles instead. The gamble paid off in that we at least broke even, but sales trickled to a stop by GenCon. However, Bloodlines is still available for order through your local game store if you want a copy of your own.

One great high point in the spring of 2006 was our partnership with Fabled Environments. This studio was referred to us by a mutual friend, and we hit it off well. 12 to Midnight helped them package and sell their maps as the breakway hit Modern Floorplans line. Another highlight of this period was our new relationship with e23—the online store for Steve Jackson Games. 12 to Midnight games can now be found at almost every major RPG e-book retailer.

While work on the print book progressed, Jerry continued to refine Fire in the Hole. By summer, it had been turned over to our lead editor. In the meantime, we moved on to our next project—bringing d20 System material from our Modern Dispatches to our Savage Worlds fans. Jerry’s Midnight Tales collected the first three Dispatches written by Jerry Blakemore, and it was received with enough success that we plan on releasing more in the line.

Speaking of Modern Dispatch, by summer it became clear that our monthly obligation for Dispatches was a major drain on our time. Work on our “big” titles constantly had to take a back seat to meeting our monthly deadlines. Apparently Ronin Arts and Adamant felt the same way, because we mutually agreed to part ways after issue 100. I can not mention summer and Modern Dispatch without also mentioning the best issue of our run—Chickens in the Mist. This is a must-have adventure for anyone running a modern campaign.

The end of August saw Fire in the Hole still in editing, so I agreed to help out a fellow publisher (Reality Blurs) who needed a last-minute layout artist for a book. This near-200 page job bled off another two months of momentum for 12 to Midnight, although for at least half of that time FitH was still in final edit. As soon as I finished helping the other publisher, I laid out and released Fire in the Hole for d20 within two weeks. The Savaged edition followed a few weeks thereafter in early December. We are also geeked out by the cool companion tiles and tokens created by imprint studio Dirty Unicorn Games. This set, called Flatlands: Fire for Effect, includes textures, creatures, and equipment inspired by (and in some cases inspiration for) Fire in the Hole. As icing on the cake, we even partnered with RPG Objects to offer a bundle of our titles plus Blood & Guts 2 for a complete d20 System “military horror campaign in a box”.

While 2006 had its ups and downs, I think we streamlined our processes, found some excellent new artists, made new friends, and “primed the pump” for some great things in 2007. Check back for my next post, which gives you our plan for the coming year.

Have a great and prosperous New Year. May all your rolls be successes.

Preston P. DuBose
President
12 to Midnight

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1 Comment

Comment by Jerry
2007-01-03 15:38:16

Should be a great year!!!

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