I'm a big fan of Wes Otis ever since his first Kickstarter. Now he's back with a new Kickstarter, with a pro audio collection for RPG, board, LARP, and miniature games. The Kickstarter concludes on November 17 and is currently at $11,933 of its $35,000 goal. I caught up with Wes about his latest effort.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your Kickstarter.
Wes Otis (WO): I’m creating a catalog of professional sounds for tabletop gamers to use during their sessions. I’ll be recording new sounds for monsters, traps, spells, weapons, as well as creating new 10 minute long music and background loop tracks. Before stretch goals it will be a total of 263 sounds.
MT: Tell us about your gaming background.
WO: I started playing 1stEd. AD&D when I was 8 and later began running games in middle school. Now, I run several games including Dungeon World, Call of Cthulhu, Fate Core, Unknown Armies, and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. I still like playing 1stEd. every now and again. Playing all genres has helped me understand what GMs need for their games sound-wise as well.
MT: Tell us about your company.
WO: I started writing PDFs for GMs to help with their games. For Pathfinder, I wrote the People, Places, & Plots series and for general plot hooks I wrote Hooks throughout History. I decided to start making Mp3s when realized sound was lacking for tabletop games. Most of what was out there wasn’t professional, was just music, and only covered fantasy. I wanted to make several backgrounds for multiple genres, but I didn’t know if anyone else would be into them. I launched a Kickstarter with a funding goal of $1,000 to create 24, 10 minute long tracks. The response was awesome and Plate Mail Games was really born out of that Kickstarter. We had great backers and they are the reason there is a Plate Mail Games.
My focus for the company is to put out the best audio and written supplements possible. I even have plans for a board game and an RPG. I want to grow the company and give other creators a place to create their visions as well. Along with top notch productions, Plate Mail Games strives for great customer service as well. I do my best to make sure my customers are well taken care of.
MT: Have you Kickstarted any other products in the past?
WO: The only other Kickstarter I have done is the RPG Background Loop project earlier this year. I finished 1160 minutes of tracks in 5 months.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model?
WO: It has made it possible for me to have a business. If I had to go to a bank to borrow money or a few large investors, then I would have never have gotten funding. Being able to roll out a large product line all at once is wonderful. The cool thing about Kickstarter is it gives fans a chance to say “Hey, I like your product. I’m willing to put money down to back it.”
That being said, I don’t think every product needs to be Kickstarted. Take our sound app. I didn’t want to tie it to our campaign because I’m not a programmer, and the cost to make it happen is really high. I didn’t want to risk backers’ money on a product that size. Plus, I’m going to be giving it away for free. I will be using any extra funds from this Kickstarter to start developing the app but only after everything else is paid for.
MT: Why should backers contribute to your Kickstarter? What sets it apart?
WO: I’ve been working in sound professionally for 15 years on shows for Warner Bros., Disney and Nickelodeon, and I’ve been nominated for four Golden Reels and an Emmy. I have spent a great deal of time working with sound. I’m taking all that knowledge and combining it with my 30 years of playing games to create this audio collection. Plate Mail Games delivers the top quality sound for the gaming community. Our Kickstarter is a way for backers to help us expand the sounds we offer for games quickly while getting great rewards.
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
WO: I think it’s doing well because of things like Kickstarter. I think RPGs are making a comeback. During the late ‘90’s through the early 2000s, many of us felt the RPGs were going to die out. We’d all be playing Magic even if we didn’t want to. Now, because of the internet and the indie press movement, more of us can reach a larger audience. The landscape is always changing, and there are more opportunities, but that also means more competition.
MT: How hard is it for a game publisher in this economy?
WO: I think being anything in this economy is hard. Like I said, there are more opportunities, but making enough money to pay the rent is not guaranteed. You have to put the work in and not give up. You have to treat your customers like human beings who deserve respect. If someone’s decision is between buying food or buying a book, they’re going to buy food. So, when people do have money to spend on gaming, a company must offer something better than anyone else on the block.
MT: What's involved in making these sounds?
WO: For this project I’ll start with recording voice over actors and Foley to create the bones of the collection. The voice over actors will be recording monster sounds, while Foley artists will record sword impacts, trap sounds, and impacts. After that, I spend time taking what they have done and editing it. I add effects and layer sounds to make the final track. I mix those all down for what you will receive. I also plan to record firearms for the project. I have a link on the front page of the Kickstarter to a breakdown of what goes into the making of the collection and how much it all costs to do.
MT: What are the challenges in creating sounds for gamers, as opposed to the film industry?
WO: With film, you have a set environment with a set out script while tabletop gaming is fluid. The backgrounds have to enhance the story without dictating the pace of the action. In the past, sound for tabletop games meant the GM having to time when a swell in the music would hit. For our music and backgrounds, we keep the backgrounds steady and capture the environment the players are in. To me, it’s a much bigger challenge, but a fun challenge nonetheless.
MT: What's next for your company?
WO: Lots of exciting stuff. Developing an audio app, making a board game, and I’m working on RPG rules for my own system. The next year is going to be very busy.
MT: What conventions will you be at next?
WO: The first one will be Orccon in L.A. where we run games with sounds to show what it adds to the game. After that, I hope to be able to go to Gary Con and Gen Con. Beyond that, I’m not sure. There are a lot of great conventions out there.
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
WO: You can go to platemailgames.com to listen to samples and learn about myself and the rest of the crew. Also, you can find me on Twitter under @wesotis or on our Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/16b2hJ9.
MT: Anything else you'd like to share?
WO: Remember that we are creating a high quality collection of sounds for gaming. Plate Mail Games needs gamers’ support on this project. If you have any questions, send me an email at email@example.com. I will get back to you as fast as I can. Also, I’d like to thank all my backers so far for making Plate Mail Games possible.
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