One Year Down, Many To Go

Today, February 11th, is the one-year anniversary of BloodLetterPress.

If you’re here reading this cuz you think we’re cool and you’re a fan of what we do, I’ll start out with some honesty; the anniversary date of February 11th 2017 is quasi-arbitrary. BLP has had many liminal stages of existence, like watching shapes emerge from the cover of twilight in the early-ass morning. February was honed in on cuz aside from one relatively-divisive holiday, the second month is kind of bleak and desolate without much to celebrate. Finally, I came across what I like to consider some numerological jackpot, and settled on 2(B)/11(L)/17(P).

The earliest origin point of BLP that I can recall is at Connecticon, two years ago, mid-July. Scriv and I had attended a panel on publishing your own games; the panelists, having considerable experience between them, took the realistic approach and spent most of their time informing us attendees how pitiful and un-lucrative the game design business is. Nothing most of us hadn’t heard, though something that everyone should hear at least once.

Nevertheless, on the way out of the room, or perhaps it was when we were still seated in the audience, I recall Scriv turning to me and saying something to the effect of, “hey, wanna start a game company together?”

Well, yeah.

From there my memory jumps to a car ride with Scriv, September of the same year, on the road east to Boston for our first year as attendees of Boston Festival of Indie Games. Our resolve was still solid, so we were discussing the all-important name for our enterprise. I honestly can’t remember any of the ones that didn’t make the cut. We settled on BloodLetterPress, based off of a (cursed) magical item that my players had found during a roleplaying campaign in college. The Bloodletter sword would feed off the wounds of any opponent it sliced, but if it collected too much sanguine energy it would force its wielder into a berserk rage seeking ever more, friend or foe be damned. What was supposed to be a quickly-discarded detail of the session turned into an unintentional, long-running villain of the campaign (the best kind IMO). I was the GM for that game, playtesting what I still consider to be my most ambitious homebrew game system, and Scriv was one of the four mainstay players. And now, as of this writing, five of the six members of BLP were a part of that game. (All that says about our recruiting process is that friends who game together stick together, not any sort of ritualistic blood-magic cult stuff… I think).

After getting our feet wet in the bright-eyed, scrappy world of amateur game design at Boston FIG, we promised ourselves that BLP would be there next year as a vendor. In 2016, we were not there, but it would definitely happen in 2017… which it still did not. It wasn’t for lack of ambition or time, but rather we still had so much to figure out about who we were and what we were doing, before we could stand with confidence alongside those other indie devs who had already likely poured years of their lives into their games. I have been designing games since… before I even realized I was consciously doing it. But ideas are not the same as production, and by that point all I had was a whole bunch of ideas crammed into drawers, scrawled into school notebooks and scattered across drives on my computers. We had passion. We needed organization.

One year into our official timeline of BloodLetterPress?

Well, that hasn’t entirely changed. We certainly have far more organization than before, more than we give ourselves proper credit for. But we’re learning that it’s always an ongoing process. We’re learning a lot of things that we never expected to not know. Including how to not be discouraged by that unexpected not-knowing.

And hey, this year, in 2018, we are actually planning on being at Boston FIG. Can I guarantee it at this point? Absolutely not. But it’s the first time that it really does feel possible. A lot feels possible this year. Our first minor con (JiffyCon in October 2017) was a major success. Our first major con (Arisia 2018) was also a fantastic success. We’ve got our eyes on at least four more events before the end of the year. We have more projects on the docket than we can count (though we really should try to at some point). New ideas and project concepts bubble up at every weekly meeting.

For me personally, it feels like we’ve just about reached that point, inertially-speaking, when all of your pushing is starting to pay off. The wheels have finally caught, and you feel momentum starting to tug on the other end of the craft you’ve cobbled together from spit and prayer. It’s not in our nature to stop pushing at any point, but we should probably start  focusing more on learning how to steer.

I definitely can’t close out a sentimental post about our accomplishments without offering up my sincerest gratitude to all the people who we’ve met so far on our journey, who I hope we can continue to build good cheer and rapport with from here on. My eternal gratitude goes out to the wonderful folks over at Timeless Caverns, LB Lee, Joshua AC Newman, Kibble, Hamlet, Viv, Colin, Jenny, Alex, Greyson, Maggie, Krystal, my long-running VT DnD crew, Paradise Copies of Northampton MA, One Way Screenprinting of Hadley MA, and, of course, the five other creative folks that I share the Board of Directors of BLP with.

Here’s to the lessons of the past, the presence of now and the potential of tomorrow.

~~ Nagi