A few weeks ago I did a mini-review of a preview package for Mike Schley’s Kickstarter product. You can find that review here, but it entailed a project called Schleyscapes. Episode one stood to represent the potential for a future series done by Mike and I loved it. This system-agnostic supplement included a minor encounter location, some back story, plenty of breathing room, gorgeous maps, and a well put together package. Enough so that I backed the project on Kickstarter. Today we return to The Forlorn Cottage to see what came from Mike’s successful Kickstarter.
Little has changed from the initial preview that I saw and, frankly, that is a good thing. What I saw was fantastic and included more than enough to be a product worth spending money on. In the final version the mid-sentence hyphenations have been fixed, though there are still hyphenations. Now, I’m new to the whole publishing thing so it might be personal preference, but I would love to see those removed to clean up the look of the text a bit more. Honestly, that can’t detract from Schleyscapes. In addition to what had been in there, I noticed at least one additional piece of art, an angled cutaway which only had a black and white version for the preview. The color version is amazing. I love it. In all honestly, I much prefer the color versions of his works. Part of it is the line detail Mike uses and part of it is how detailed and busy the scenes are. In black and white, many things get lost, but having that more economically printable option is a must.
For those who pledged $20 (just $5 beyond the base supplement price) we were rewarded with a set of PNG images for personal use. This interested me because, again, I love the art and also because I run game online and can always use more assets for that. What I got was beyond what I had expected. Over 300 images were included ranging from a creature token to tiles and walls to special rooms and furniture. Not only that, but there were included in three different sizes for however you wished to use them. Now, these aren’t for commercial use, but the amount of personal use I will get from these is incredible. In fact, it puts me that much deeper into my desire to create a virtual battle map for table use and not just virtual table use.
I have not asked Mike, nor am I positive if it is something that has been brought up yet, but I wanted to talk pricing. For the consumer, for me personally, this is always a make or break. I have to prioritize what I want and what I will use. I think $15, which was the Kisckstarter cost, was a bit hefty for a digital product this size. Of course there were an incredible variety of map sizes and types to go along with encounter, and the encounter is a fun one. However, I have gotten more for less or gotten it in print form. I would love to see different packages available for smaller price points. A virtual table top package, a printable package, and perhaps an encounter only package. I can see the PNGs being a separate product or as an add-on to the VTT package. The thing the supplement was more expensive than other, more robust if not gorgeous, supplements. The PNG assets, on the other hand, were ten times what I expected at the additional $5 I paid and ten times what I normally find / buy when I buy virtual map assets.
Was the Kickstarter worth it? Absolutely! Will future episodes be worth the money? Yes, but I will have to be choosy if there is only an all or nothing price point. Personally I would more likely buy just the encounter and PNG sets for every episode, but choose very carefully full packages. I would be up to the idea of a subscription as well, though. There is plenty of room for middle ground here and I hope Mike has had enough positive feedback to create more episodes. I look forward to seeing more!