And the winner is. . .plus survey summary.


The Modernity Cover Concept survey was open for 10 days and gathered 114 responses from posts on in Fate-related Facebook groups, subreddits, Twitter, and one the email newsletter for San Antonio Meetup group. There’s not a lot of interesting trends for responses by day of response, but the second day garnered the most responses which might lead one to conclude that reddit folks like to express their opinions and generally act immediately, if they’re going to act at all, but that’s only speculation based on the fact that the survey was posted to reddit the day after Facebook and Twitter: Survey Monkey doesn’t have a built-in mechanism for tracking referral source without making some changes to the survey structure. (Lesson #88 learned there.)

Data Points

In quantitative terms, the two primary avenues of exploration were 5-point feeling thermometers for each of four concept images created to test several stylistic elements against the following questions:

  1. Based on this cover style, would you buy this game?
  2. Based on this cover style, what ESRB rating would you give this game?

Anecdotal, open-ended input was also requested for each concept.

Here’s how the data of responses graph out:


Overall, I’m happy with the quantity of anecdotes. It always falls off a little bit throughout a survey as people try not to repeat themselves or just feel like there’s nothing to comment on, but in this case the anecdote curve is nearly flat, which is great! I’m very glad (as a data scientist) that you’re willing to share. While I’m reading them, though, I have to send other my wanna-be creative and somewhat autistic selves on vacation. . . The Fate Fan Club isn’t shy about being brutally honest!

“Personally, I think the art style lacks polish and gives it an amateurish feel. I expect the game inside to be similarly less than finished.”

“Nope. Drag this out back and shoot it. This looks like it’s done by a 14 year old with a freshly pirated copy of Illustrator who brags that they’re gonna make 6 figures as a freelance design guru no really check out my deviantART.”

The next two demonstrate the trend of getting polar opposite feedback from members of the same audience about the same image. . .

“I like that the cover feature women in a way that’s not sexualised, but I kinda hate the monster and that 3D vibe. It breaks the noir mood.”

“Looks both clunky and overly sexualized”

Across concepts there were respondents that completely disagreed, which is to be expected. But I’m not sure what to do with an equal number of people who say opposite things about the same image:

  • “Not Enough Detail!” and “Too Much Detail!”
  • “It looks amateurish and lacks polish.” and “I love the look and the promise of what’s inside.”
  • “I love the daemon” and “I hate the stupid demon”
  • “It’s a bunch or mismatched stuff thrown together.” and “I like the different characters shown off, makes me associate the game with variety.”
  • “Cthulhu is a nice touch” and “Meh, another RPG that uses Cthulhu-like artwork”

I shall ponder upon the duality of man and find a way to make peace with the fact that I can’t please them all. . .

In particular, I am curious about why #37 seems less rated M for Mature than the other three. Anecdotes for #17 and #23 seemed to indicate that a few of folks assumed the female spellcaster was naked (I’m curious about why some respondents came to that conclusion–does the color white indicated nakedness in some parts of the world?) and a minority of respondents were hyper-focused on the breasts of the same character (which somehow makes me the misogynist or the over-sexed teenager?), but there weren’t any breast-focused or porn-related commentary for #42 (as if all well-endowed women star in porn?) which would naturally lead to a similar above-Teen rating. Maybe Cthulhu Himself by definition automatically rates one ESRB level bump?

Awkward transition. Not sure what to do with this one:

“How old are you guys? Having women issues much? Wow…”

Short answer: No, not really.

Fortunately, the majority of respondents gave helpful feedback about specifically what worked for them or what didn’t.

“Preferred the demon to Cthulhu, although I can see having him might draw in certain folks. Prefer this card layout to the torn paper. Best design yet.”

“This one makes me think we’ll be dealing with Cthulhu, or some Cthulhu type themes, which makes me think of a more mature theme. Also, makes me want to get it more.”

I’m curious to know what specifically prompted this one (saying “everything about it” isn’t helpful, either):

“Quite cliché”

Lots of stuff to think about. And discuss with my wife of 25 years and long-time business partner.


It goes without saying that I’m bummed that very few folks took these as prototypes for comparison purposes, instead judging them as finished work. But, I’ll take the feedback however I can get it. I already knew why most creatives refuse to share anything that’s not (in their own opinion) perfectly polished, which I believe prevents a lot of good feedback from flowing, but I also get that early feedback can often be unpleasant.

For the record, I didn’t get anywhere near a large enough sample to generalize broadly, and in retrospect there are a couple of important qualifying questions that I failed to ask (bad survey designer!) which would have shed more light on the WHY of the responses, which leaves me to focus on the WHAT of the responses we do have for this analysis. For example, I think that some of the hypernegative feedback were simply people who are averse to UF or ON as genres in the first place, but there’s no way to discern that from this survey as designed. Next time!

With #42 the only concept to receive any #5 rankings (“Hurry up and take my moneys!”) and the fewest #1 rankings (“Nope!”), it might seem the clear winner. But, #17 also clustered very heavily around a #3 ranking, it just had a couple more #1s to drag it down and no #5s to pull it up. Although there were anecdotes from people who preferred either #23 or #37, they were far fewer than those that prefer the alternatives and they didn’t love either enough to give either a single #5 ranking.

Although most respondents agreed that Modernity (regardless of cover concept) was Teen-rated, for some reason there’s something about #37 (the cover with ripped out tabs) that pulled huge for E10+, which drug the overall rating estimate down. Not sure if it’s the simpler coloring of the characters, using a head-n-shoulders view instead of full figure, the lack of Cthulhu, or some combination of the above. Curiouser.

Still, the data and the anecdotes will be enormously helpful in charting the course forward for Modernity, its art style, as I churn forward finalizing the next iteration of the product for 2018.

Thank you all very much. (Yes, you, too.)

The Winner

The percentile-oriented analog random number generators had their say, and they decided that the winner of our $50 DriveThruRPG gift certificate is. . .

Congratulations to Lauren Woods!

The digital transmission has already happened, and Lauren has been encouraged not to spend it all in one place (although, that’s going to happen regardless the silly advice I gave). Perhaps at some future date Lauren will be willing to disclose what was purchased with the windfall? Inquiring minds and all that, you know.


I’m always open to whatever feedback whenever you’re willing to share through whatever medium you’re willing to share it. Some people need something to hate, and I’m OK with being the focus of evil in the modern world for those folks if that’s what they need to feel better about themselves. I learned a long time ago that unhelpful negativity from others isn’t really about me anyway.

For those of you who’ve offered specific actionable feedback or to help or collaborate in some way, you’re wonderful and I’m grateful for you. Be looking for follow up email from me soon. Until then, may we all be rewarded for our intentions, not our actions.

Survey Closed: Thank you for your input!

The Modernity Cover Concepts survey closed on Friday as planned, but since the weekend was busy with preparing for NerdvanaCon this coming Saturday (plus unplanned teenage family drama) and a new Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE) group full of teenage girls (actually not the source of the family drama, if you can believe it). The new FAE group includes some wackiness I couldn’t’ve dreamed up (High Concepts) for the members of the band “Power Outage”:

  • Merman Musician on a Motorcycle
  • Backup Bard with a Dream
  • Concert Fashion Designer
  • Dwarf Wizard in Oversized Robes
  • Des Bus-ito (think Transformers-style tour bus)
  • Knight with a Loaded Mind

Anyway, that’s why I’m just now wading through the survey responses and aggregating the numbers to get a better picture (pardon the put) of your thoughts on the four concepts. Some things that I’ve already observed:

  1. Some of you are very, very “honest” with your feedback. I asked for your unvarnished opinions, and boy howdy did y’all deliver! (I think I can tell who the reddit respondents are by the tone of their input. Heh.)
  2. There seems to be a very consistent preference for one style in particular, but there are some outliers who love the others. Have to ponder on that.
  3. It’s clear from the feedback that I’ve still got work to do to improve even the most popular style of the four. Roger that!
  4. I could be wrong, but there seems to be a little hold-over bias based on the original Modernity art style. Not sure how to account for that, but I’ll keep thinking about it.
  5. Some of you offered to engage in a discussion via email, and I definitely plan to take you up on the offer. Thank you double!

I’ll be getting out the analog random number generators of the percentile variety this evening to determine who the winner of the DriveThruRPG gift certificate is. If all goes as planned, I’ll be announcing that winner later this week and sending fifty of my own dollars ($50!) to that lucky person.

Again, thank you all of your input!

Thank you for your support!

I had a lot of fun at GaMExpo this year, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

We had two Modernity sessions and two Starcrossed sessions.

If you made it to the Hilton Hill Country Resort, I’m glad you were there.

If you didn’t, we missed you. Catch you at the next convention or playtest game.


p.s. Yes, I’m still cranking away on The Raid on Slavers’ Bay. We did more playtesting at GaMExpo. Release date announcement “real soon now.” 🙂

Raid on Slavers' Bay (Fate Edition) Cover 600x900

Activities vs. Assets? What are you making with your time?

Val Cameron’s one of those people that I consider one of my mentors. We’ve never met in person, but I’ve listened to countless hours of his voice and watched equally countless hours of his video instruction. He seems to have been pretty successful in 3D art, or at least has me fooled. Heh.

He blogged something today that got me thinking about why I created Glacier Peak (and keep plugging away at it), and more so why some of the people that I’ve tried to inspire to make a career of their passion fail to thrive. I have observed that those who fail are more interested in getting validation than they are in business, which may be why Val’s comment struck a chord with me.

Successful entrepreneurs don’t focus on getting paid for their time.

What 97% Of All DAZ Vendors Do Wrong (And Earn Peanuts)

I was reading his blog post and nodding along when I got to that line and thought, “That would be nice.” Which is when every entrepreneurial mentor I’ve ever head started rolling around on the floor and laughing in my head. I had to laugh along with them. That’s not why I do this.

Full disclosure: I have a full-time day job, and I kind of like it. Most of the indie authors and game creators that I know do, too. I’m cool with that. I get paid there for my time. What I do for Glacier Peak I do for for three reasons:

  1. I love doing it. I was doing it for free before I was doing it for money. I still do a LOT of it for free running open games at different conventions and game stores every week. I love helping other people enjoy the tabletop hobby.
  2. I enjoy making assets that have a long tail and will continue to make a little money down the road. It’s more than a hobby for me. It’s an investment.
  3. Every once in a while, somebody actually buys something that I created and published. Steve was customer #417 of Modernity (Fate Edition) today. That felt pretty good. Thanks, Steve!

Graciously accepting feedback…

I’ve learned a few lessons about receiving feedback since we shipped our first tabletop game on Halloween—and rigorously exercised a few lessons that I’ve learned in the past. Not all feedback is fun to receive, but it’s all valuable.

To everyone who provided input, thank you! You were heard and where possible and appropriate I’ll act on it.

Speaking to and on behalf of all the employees yet to be hired, Glacier Peak will not be one of those companies whose people aren’t grateful for your thoughts. To our customers, thank you for taking time out of your life to share those thoughts with us.

Your feedback is appreciated.

Updated Modernity playtest release schedule and Salomé

Page 06 - Table of Contents - Salomé - 003 - webMeet Salomé, Sacerdotisa de La Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte. Priestess of Our Lady of the Holy Death. She is one of the denizens of Modernity and will grace the back cover of the core game book. She may also feature prominently in a series of upcoming Modernity novels…

The next and final playtest release of Modernity will ship on September 30. It will contain final game rules, and near final art and game content. A couple little things, like the index and art improvements, will be the only likely changes between what playtesters will get a month early and what will ship in the final version of game.

I am also very excited to have and be listening to the first 3 tracks of “Modernity’s Dark Moods” by Ausgrave Royalty. Many more to come with AR’s debut with us on Halloween. The three tracks are tentatively titled:

  1. A Light in the Darkness of Misery
  2. A Night in the Dystopian Café
  3. The End of All Things

When the full collection of “Modernity’s Dark Moods” is completed, we’re going to see if we can find a way to share it early with the folks in our playtest community. I know you’ll love them as much as I do. Justin makes amazing music.

Thank you all for being a part of the birth of Modernity. Stay tuned. There is a lot more to come!

Making concessions to the inevitable

Despite building slack into the Modernity production schedule, life happens. When a family member contracts a catastrophic illness, our priorities get rearranged. With my partner in life and in business out of town caring for a family member with cancer, I have to concede that being Mr. Mom has cut more deeply into my art production and editing time than I would’ve thought. (Aren’t teenagers supposed to be relatively independent and self-sufficient? Hrm.)

Thank for your patience. Doubly so for those who’ve been helping out and have expressed well wishes. (The surgery was apparently a success, but you never know with these things, do you?)

In lieu of the overdue playtest draft for September, I hope you’ll accept my apologies and a preview of the artwork slated for the page facing the concession rules. [Truth be told, I’m not entirely happy with the volumetric lighting yet, but it’s getting closer.]

Page 98 - Caught! - 021

I’m still plugging away at the ~2,000 edits proposed by Phil (who is the meanest, nastiest, and most helpful editor among dozens that I’ve ever worked with or hired). Oh, and my render box is cranking away every night producing the next iteration of polished art while I sleep. I might miss the September playtest release (I’ll give you an update next Saturday either way).

I’m very optimistic that I’ll still make the Halloween release date!