2017 In Review

It's almost 2018.

In less than a week, people will begin their resolutions. Many of us will begin the month-long process of retraining our brains to end dates with an "18" instead of a "17."

It's a time for changes. It's also a time to take stock of what happened last year. That's what this post is all about. I'm going to spend a little time exploring what 2017 meant for myself and Protagonist Industries. I'll also spend a bit discussing what our plans are for next year as well.


Home by Dark Released!


This one is probably the most obvious. Last February, we released our first game: Home by Dark. Chances are that this book is probably why you even know about us.

It was a very quick process: from designing the game in July 2016, to playtesting in August, to Kickstarting in October, to releasing in February 2017. I admit that I had no idea if anyone would be interested in the game. I'm glad that it found a home in the community so quickly!

If you were to ask me at the beginning of 2016 whether I'd be writing a game, I'd have said "you're nuts." I hadn't written anything professionally in about 13 years. I guess a writer never stops writing; they take a break.

I want to say a heartfelt "thank you" to every single person that has played Home by Dark, given me feedback about it, and told me about how much they've enjoyed the game. You welcomed it to your gaming table, and I'm humble and thankful for that.


People don't discover new games in a vacuum. I attended a handful of conventions this year to introduce Home by Dark to the gaming public. Watching peoples' awareness of HBD grow from convention to convention was an amazing experience.

We ran games at:

  • OrcaCon
  • GameStorm
  • Emerald City Comicon
  • Norwescon
  • Dragonflight
  • GenCon

I met so many great people at these conventions. They gave so much support and such enthusiasm.

It was especially awesome to be there for GenCon's 50th anniversary. The last time I'd gone was 2004, back when I was a freelance writer. Back then, it barely filled the entire convention center. Now, it has infected every adjacent building with gaming and fun. It even took over Lucas Oil Stadium! It was amazing to reconnect with friends that I hadn't seen in over a decade outside of Facebook or Twitter.

Next year, we plan to visit even more conventions! Read further below about how you might be able to help us determine where to go next!


The last thing that should probably be mentioned about 2017 is the playsets. Part "Kickstarter commitment" and part "writing warm up," the Home by Dark playsets have been a considerable task.

As of writing this, six playsets have been completed and six more are scheduled to be made between now and May. I was eager to do this as a way to get myself back into writing consistently with a deadline.

Unfortunately, some issues during the summer pushed three of those playsets well past their intended release dates, but they've been on track since they were caught up in October.

One lesson I've learned is that writing a product doesn't ship a product. Each playset is about 1500 words, more or less. Between brainstorming the plot and breaking out the mechanical impacts, this takes about three to five evenings to write a rough draft for. Once that's complete, it takes two to three rounds of editing to clean up and polish. After editing, it's another three days for art to be iterated on and signed off. Finally, all of the content and art need to be laid out. This can take up to two evenings.

Tally all of that up and it's about two to three weeks per monthly playset. As you may notice, that doesn't leave me a lot of time to work on the next game. Oops.

Lessons learned, right? :)


Now that I've gone through a list of what we've accomplished and learned this year, it's time to talk about what we plan to do next year.

Moar Conventions!!!

Next year, we're planning to hit up even more conventions! Some of them that we're looking into are further out of our usual path, but we'd love to hear from you about which conventions you'd like to see us at. Please fill out our 2018 Convention Survey to help us narrow that list down!

We'll definitely be at OrcaCon in a couple of weeks and are currently making plans for GameStorm and ECCC. Beyond that, we're an open book for the 2018 convention circuit!

Our Next Thing

Many of you have asked about what our follow-up project will be. It's not far along to announce, but there is something coming down the pipe. Soon, it should be in a form that we can bring to conventions for playtesting. Beyond that, there isn't much more to say.

We will definitely have more to announce in the early months of 2018. Stay tuned!

More Blog Posts

One of the more exciting parts of creating this website for me personally was the ability to write blog posts. I was really looking forward to writing about the approach I take to design, writing, narrative, and the integration of them into a single product.

Unfortunately, my summer schedule was really hoarked up by my day job (yeah, I have one of those), which killed a lot of momentum I had.

You may have read my Part 1 post about running a Kickstarter. You may have noticed there has never been a Part 2. Womp womp.

Next year, I plan to remedy that lack of content. My first focus will be on Part 2 and Part 3 of that Kickstarter series. After that, we should see more compelling blog content on a more consistent basis.

I plan to write more posts about the experiences I've run into while running PI. My goal with these posts is to remove anyone's fears about making their own games. Learn from my research. Learn from my mistakes. If you have any questions about the posts or if you have any ideas for future posts, let me know!


Finally, I've been considering once the playsets are complete is to start a Patreon. I love creating things, teaching, and helping others to nurture their ideas.

The reason for the Patreon is to help offset some of the business costs for PI. The goal, however, will be to help those who want to create their own games and those who want to tell their own stories. It'll be the source for first-run articles on game design and my thoughts on how to integrate cinematic emotive storytelling with game mechanics. I'll also host playtest sessions and game design workshops to help those who want to make their own story/RPG games.

At the earliest, this will probably happen in late spring. I'll post more about this later on in the year.

We'd love to hear from you

Before I wrap this post up, I'd like to ask you all to please fill out our two surveys to help us plan for next year. A smarter person may have rolled them into a single survey but... well... erm... *cough* please fill them out.

2017 State of the Company Survey
2018 Convention Survey

Both of them will be open until January 1, 2018.

Thank you all for your support this year. We look forward to creating more things for you to enjoy!

Bring it on, 2018,

- Jason

Jason Olsan

Noir Game Studios